The WAWLI Papers #290...
GRAPPLERS TOLD TO BEHAVE
(Los Angeles Times, January 6, 1933)
CHICAGO, Ill., Jan. 5 (AP) -- No more rough-house or
burlesque wrestling goes in Chicago.
No longer will the big, hairy chested mammoths of the mat
be allowed to toss each other out of the ring, exchange bites,
slug each other and indulge in other monkey business to the
huge delight of the spectators.
In the future wrestlers must wrestle, or be fined, suspended,
Gen. John V. Clinnin, chairman of the Illinos State Athletic
Commission, made known his stand today, after one of the
wrestling boys, Lou Plummer, of South Bend, Ind., took a
few wallopos at the referee in a recent match. Plummer was
ordered to appear before the commission next Monday for
Gen. Clinnin said that present wrestling was nothing more
than "horseplay;" that they were not contests, and nothing
more than exhibitions of tossing each other around -- a
burlesque on the Roman arena.
"I am sick and tired of this monkey business," Gen. Clinnin
said. "Wrestlers must wrestle or get out.
"These fellows go through the same act all over the country.
In some places the referees are part of the act, but in Illinois
they are representatives of the state and must uphold the
"These exhibitions are not even amusement; they don't
approach it. These wrestlers either go to a draw for a
stipulated number of minutes, or one of them lays down,
according to an arranged program. It is no longer a sport.
They bite each other, trade blows, and go through other
horseplay for no other purpose than to work on the passion of
the spectators. They are fooling the people by claiming to put
on a contest where there is no contest to it."
LAST NIGHT'S MAT RESULTS AT THE OLYMPIC
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, January 12, 1933)
Ray Steele won over George Zaharias in the main event of
Lou Daro's wrestling match last night at the Olympic by
gaining the "rubber" fall with a full nelson in 16m. and 50s. A
fistic fight between the gladiators followed, but Daro
separated them before any bodily harm was done.
Zaharias applied a series of his tortuous face locks to pin
Steele to the mat in 28m. 7s. Referee Don McDonald was
compelled to intervene at intervals to wrench "Gentleman
George" off his foe to avoid a good, old-fashioned strangling
Steele came back to drop Zaharias in 9m. 35s. with two
Wrapping each other up like a Christmas parcel with their
elongated legs, Vic Christy and Fred Grubmeier panted to a
thirty-minute draw in the semi-wind-up. They tugged and
pulled and grunted but all to no avail.
Henry Graber slipped over a right to Dick Daviscourt's chin
that made a so-called pugilist in the front row turn red in
remorse. The latter fell noggin first through the ropes and
was unable to return within the allotted twenty seconds. This
bit of action occurred just seventeen minutes and twenty
seconds after activities started.
Hans Steinke registered two body slams within quick
succession over Don De Laun in fourteen minutes and fifteen
seconds. Steve Strelich finished George Maloney in the
curtain-raiser in fourteen minutes and forty-eight seconds
with a body slam.
LONDOS WINNER OVER MARSHALL
(Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1933)
ST. LOUIS, Jan. 18 (AP) -- Jim Londos of St. Louis
defended his claims to the heavyweight wrestling title,
defeating Everett Marshall, of La Junta, Colo., in 1h. 12m.
24s. here tonight. Londos was awarded the decision on an
"unconscious" hold, described as having the victim's arm
raised above his head in chancery. Londos weighed 202,
MARSHALL CLAIMS WRESTLING TITLE
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, January 31, 1933)
Demand that he be acclaimed the world's champion
heavyweight wrestler in Missouri as the successor to Jim
Londos has been made by Everette Marshall, and the blond
Californian yesterday wired from Kansas City that he will
probably be a fullfledged title-holder when he meets George
Wilson at the Hollywood Legion Stadium Thursday night.
Marshall claims that Londos forfeited his title so far as
Missouri is concerned when he used an illegal hold in their
match several weeks ago. He has sent word that the
commission is almost certain to take his view of the
EIGHT BARRED BY MAT BOARD
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, February 2, 1933)
LOUISVILLE, Ky., Feb. 1 (AP) -- Eight wrestlers appearing
here last night were suspended by Karl D. Malone, executive
secretary of the National Wrestling Association of America,
when they refused to perform under the regulations of the
association, which include physical examinations by
Those suspended were Ed Don George, New York; Mike
Romano, New Orleans; Sandor Szabo, Austria; Scotty
McDougall, Scotland; Glenn Munn, Lincoln, Neb.; Dude
Chick, Lincoln; Jerry Monahan, New York, and Ted Cox,
Malone said the suspension would be effective in twenty
states which are members of the National Wrestling
AIRPLANE SPIN RUINS WILSON AT HOLLYWOOD
(Los Angeles times, Friday, February 3, 1933)
Everette Marshall, blond Colorado mat gladiator, took but
22m. 46s. to win his scheduled two-out-of-three-fall finish
battle with George Wilson, former Washington grid star, last
night in the Hollywood Legion main event. Wilson was
unable to continue the brawl after being knocked cold by a
rabbit punch followed by Marshall's celebrated airplane spin.
He was carried from the ring on a stretcher.
One of the largest crowds in the history of wrestling at the
Legion witnessed the match, which marked Marshall's return
to California after a five months' campaign in the east.
Prince Chewchki proved even tougher than his name is to
pronounced in winning two straight falls from Andreas
Castanos. The Prince got rougher than the roads in the State
of Despair to cop the first fall in 13m. 4s. and the second in
14s. flat. The winning holds were described as cross body
blocks which, to the layman, means nothing less than a
couple of well-timed rights to the cin.
In the other bouts, Glenn Wade tossed Sailor Jack Lewis
wiith a pile driver drop in 13m. 55s. Perry Marter quelled
Dave Orsdorff in 28m. 41s. by virtue of a series of headlocks.
Joe Woods and Roy Goldberg wasted fifteen minutes of
each other's time to arrive at nothing more startling than a
PESEK STARTS NEW CAMPAIGN
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, February 16, 1933)
Returning to Hollywood after an absence of five months,
John Pesek, the Nebraska "Tiger," will start a new drive for
world's title recognition by meeting Glenn Wade, Long
Beach heavyweight, in a two-hour, time-limit match, as the
feature of five grappling bouts at the Legion Stadium tonight.
Pesek's gold belt emblematic of his American Legion
heavyweight championship will be at stake. The match will
be held under California Athletic Commission rules, which
require that a decision be rendered.
If neither has gained the deciding fall at the end of two hours,
an extra fifteen minutes will be ordered and a decision by the
Pesek expects to enter the ring at 192 pounds, the lightest
weight at which he has competed in the last five years. He
must concede Wade at least twenty pounds and the fact has
made the Long Beach man an even choice.
In the semi-wind-up, George Wilson, former University of
Washington football star, will start a little comeback with Joe
Woods, local heavyweight, as his opponent. Wilson dropped
the verdict to Everette Marshall two weeks ago, but he hopes
to regain his winning ways tonight at the expense of Woods.
"Prince" Chewchki, Oklahoma gypsy heavyweight, who won
easily on his debut here, gets a real test in a half-hour tussle
with Charlie Santen, young Missouri heavyweight.
A newcomer will be a full-blooded Indian, "Chief Three
Persons," who claims to be a descendant of the battling
redskin, Geronimo. He tangles with Jim Corrigan, the only
Irishman on the card, in a one-fall bout.
This week's "grudge" feature will be supplied by Harry
Ekizian and Walter Podalak, Russian strong man, who will
settle their differences in a one-fall scramble with a thirty-
minute time limit.
Don McDonald will referee all the matches.
ED. NOTE -- The clippings in this WAWLI Papers report
were provided by the research of Steve Yohe. Our thanks to
his continued support of the publication.
PLANS COURT ORDER TO SAVE MAT SHOW
(Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, April 11, 1933)
Wrestling was exiled from the commonwealth of Illinois
yesterday for the second time in three years, when the
Illinois Athletic Commission, after an exhaustive
investigation, decided that the game is not without its
moments of deceit.
Whereas three years ago the commission declared an
embargo only on heavyweight matches, it ruled yesterday to
bar wrestling of any class or description.
A contest between the commission and promoter John
Krone appeared likely over the holding of a wrestling show
scheduled at the Coliseum tonight, featuring Strangler Lewis
and Jim Browning.
Krone said he would hold the show and displayed a sanction
received from the commission and dated April 1.
Joseph Triner, chairman of the commission, said that
Krone's permit had been revoked and there would be no
"If Krone goes ahead he will be promoting an illegal show
and the commission has power to call out the police to stop
it," Triner said. He also declared the commission would
invoke such power, if necessary.
Krone said he would obtain an injunction, if necessary, in
order to present the show. His statement follows:
"On the first day of April, 1933, the following letter was sent
to me by the Illinois State Athletic Commission:
"Mr. John Krone, Sherman Hotel, Chicago, Ill.
"Your application for date of April 11th at the Coliseum has
been approved by the commission.
"Very truly yours, Illinois State Athletic Commission (signed)
Louis London, Secretary.
"Since the receipt of the letter, the authorization therein
granted has not been cancelled, and therefore the match will
be conducted according to the foregoing permit and in
accordance with the law and the rules and regulations of the
"No doubt the Honorable Commission, if they desire or
intended to cancel their permit to me, would have provided
for a hearing, according to the statute and their rules and
"Inasmuch as the State of Illinois, through its commission,
has authorized the match, the attorney general, Hon. Otto
Kerner, or, of course, the state's attorney, Hon. Thomas J.
Courtney, would be the only persons to question my right to
conduct the wrestling match.
"Yours very truly, John Krone."
Krone's refrence to the hearing due him under the law is
based on a misinterpreation of the rules, Triner said. A
hearing before the commission is the right of any promoter
refused a license, and 10 days' notice of such a hearing
must be given in writing. This rule (sec. 16 of the Illinois law
governing boxing and wrestling) does not apply in the case of
a promoter who has had a licensed granted and then
revoked, the commission contends.
John P. Murray, attorney for Doc Krone, last night intimated
that he would take legal steps today to protect his client's
investment in tonight's wrestling show.
"The commission can not suspend the statute which permits
boxing and wrestling," Murray said last night. "If the
commission could, then its own duties would be at an end.
Neither has the status of my client changed since the
commission granted permission to hold this wrestling show.
"I am not certain what course we will take. The commission
first must serve Krone with notice of revocation. We may
seek an injunction from the Circuit or Superior courts, we
may ask the same courts for a writ of certiorari, or, since
athletes from outside the jurisdiction of state courts are under
contract, we may take our plea to federal district court.
"In any event, the commission has exceeded its powers, for,
having granted a license, it can not revoke it without cause."
The decision to bar wrestling followed a public hearing for
Joe Savoldi, who said he threw Jim Londos at the Stadium
Friday night, and for Londos, who said he wasn't beaten.
There also was a hearing for Bob Manogoff, the referee, but
the commission conducted this one in private.
After examination, cross-examinations and final pleas to the
"gentlemen of the jury," Chairman Triner, Packy McFarland,
and George Getz, the commissioners closed the doors,
meditated a moment over a statement to the press and
announced, as follows:
"The commission unanimously agrees that the decision of
the referee, Bob Manogoff, in reference to the Londos-
Savoldi wrestling match, stands as rendered.
"The bout in question was not for the wrestling
championship because the commission does not recognize
any wrestling champion or championship wrestling matches,
and because of this reason the commission did not allow the
announcer to announce James Londos as champion.
"Sanction for any and all wrestling bouts has been with the
understanding that they were not for any championship and
were only exhibitions.
"The commission further unanimously agrees to suspend
wrestling in the state of Illinois indefinitely. Any and all
sanctions for wrestling matches from this date on are hereby
A wrestling addict leaped to his feet with the reading of this
ultimatum and, wringing his hat in a wash-woman grip,
begged the commission's pardon.
"What about the Browning-Lewis show at the Coliseum?" he
"Off," Triner answered loconically. "Off. No show."
The addict staggered away, crestfallen. Londos said he
would go to California and Savoldi announced that in the
case Londos was going west, he would go east.
Triner said the commission was powerless to exact reprisals
from the promoters of Friday night's show, the Chicago
Stadium Operating Company, for advertising the match as a
championship affair involving the National Wrestling
Association's diamond belt. The advertising had been done
without the commission's consent and all the commission
could do was to prevent it from happening again.
The public hearing developed nothing in testimony that shed
any light on the happenings of Friday night when Savoldi
was awarded the match on a fall in 26 minutes and 20
seconds, except that Londos did not appear to know exactly
what happened. He continued to maintain he was on his ear
and not his shoulder, and that Savoldi's feet were in the
JOE SAVOLDI SUSPENDED
(Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, April 12, 1933)
LOUISVILLE, Ky., April 11 (AP) -- Karl W. Malone,
secretary of the National Wrestling Association, tonight
announced suspension by the association of Joe Savoldi,
former Notre Dame football star, who defeated Jim Londos at
Chicago Friday. Malone said Savoldi was suspended at the
request of Indiana athletic officials, who reported Savoldi
failed to fulfill a contract at Evansville Monday night.
BROWNING PINS LEWIS; WRESTLING ENDS
(Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, April 12, 1933)
By Wilfrid Smith
Wrestling, now a lost art in Illinois by decree of the state
athletic commission last Monday, lifted its head in
posthumous exhibition last night at the Coliseum. John (Doc)
Krone presented Strangler Lewis and Jim Browning in the
obsequies only because he had been granted permission
prior to the ukase of the commission.
Browning, who had tossed the Strangler in the east recently,
thereby taking the edge off the announcement that Lewis, a
former champion, would appear in three matches in
Chicago, duplicated this feat last night. The time was
1:03:32. Unofficial figures gave an attendance of 800 with
receipts of $1,100, give or take a hundred dollars and the
same number of fans, either way.
Minor features nearly overshadowed the climax of the main
bout. That climax was a series of apparently crushing
headlocks by Lewis which terminated in Browning twisting
his opponent to the mat with a turnover scissors which left
Lewis panting impressively on his back with scarcely breath
enough to voice a protest at his unexpected defeat.
Chief of the surprises for the fans at wrestling's wake was the
appearance of Johnny Behr as referee. It was Beh'rs first
employment in charge of the grapplers. Behr and George
Karras, who handled several preliminaries, followed
instructions of the commissioners, two of whom, Chairman
Joe Triner and George Getz, sat at ringside, to make the
boys leave out the histrionics and rough stuff.
As a result, referee Karras disqualified Matros Kirilenko for
fighting after ten minutes of his bout with Leonard Macaluso.
Behr followed with a disqualification of Leo Pinetzki in 15:34
in the semi-windup with Tiny Roebuck. Pinetzki had
persisted in elbowing Roebuck's nose.
Those rulings leave the commission with a final set of
penalties to administer which, since the sport no longer is
countenanced in the state, probably will consist of forfeiture
Lewis and Browning profited by these warnings. Neither
lifted a hand to harm the other, but confined their hour's work
strictly to tugging and twisting. Browning did best with his
lofty scissors hold, utilizing his 224 pounds to yank Lewis'
fatty toros about the ring during the early minutes. As usual,
the Strangler depended on a headlock.
Each resorted to toe holds to relieve the monotony. During
the first hour Browning ran up a lead of 3 toe holds to 1, with
correspondingly reverse score in expressions of anguish and
floor beating in favor of the Strangler.
The timekeeper announced fifty minutes had elapsed when
Lewis grabbed Browning's head with his sixth, seventh and
eighth head locks. Browning apparently weakened and there
was a stir among the ringside customers who reached for
their hats and coats. Their anticipation, however, was
When Lewis plied his tenth headlock, he put on a
spectacular series of body smashes, using Browning's head
as a lever. Again the spectators stirred. Lewis continued his
tactics, running his headlocking to number 17. Browning
broke for a final time, and, when the Strangler closed in, he
flung his legs about Lewis and rolled him to the mat. Almost
before referee Behr realized the end came and Lewis lay with
both shoulders pinned.
The opening preliminary between Steve Savage and Glenn
Munn went to the limit, 20 minutes, and a draw.
Last night's matches were held only after the commission
had modified its ruling of Monday, which banned all
wrestling. After a long distance telephone conversation with
Attorney General Otto Kerner, Triner announced the bouts
might go on.
"The attorney general took the position that since a sanction
had been granted, a ten-day notice of revocation had not
been given, and since the promoter had certain property
rights because of his expenses, the commission should
rescind its action on Monday for this exception. Our ban on
wrestling, however, will continue in effect," Triner said.
SAVOLDI SIGNS WITH CANADIAN MAT PROMOTER
(Chicago Tribune, Thursday, April 13, 1933)
Joe Savoldi, claimant of the world's heavyweight wrestling
championship since his disputed victory over Jim Londos at
the Chicago Stadium last Friday night, has signed a three-
year contract with Joe Corcoran, promoter for the
Queensbury Sports Club of Toronto, Canada, it was
Referee Bob Manogoff, who gave the decision to Savoldi in
the Londos match, which resulted in the indefinite
suspension of wrestling in the state of Illinois, indicated he
would officiate in many of Savoldi's Canadian matches.
The WAWLI Papers #291...
CHERRY HILL, N.J., THE PLACE TO BE OCT. 24
On October 24 in Cherry Hill Hilton there will be Lou Thesz,
Harley Race, Danny Hodge, Gordon Solie, Dory Funk Jr.,
Barry Windham, Dan Severn, Tully Blanchard, Fred Blassie
and Abdullah the Butcher. Some of these have been
honored by the CAC before but not on the East Coast. I think
that the line-up is excellent. I do hope that the turnout will be
good however. I now understand that the people that
we are holding the dinner with (NWA) are not very well liked.
I decided to go with them, however, because they were
bringing in a large group. This way the guests did not have
to fly themselves to our dinner which is always a problem.
Cauliflower Alley Club East Coast Reunion
JIM LONDOS TELLS ALL
(Los Angeles Times, Friday, April 14, 1933)
"I've lost a few falls in my life but that's the first time I ever
lost one when I had a hold on my opponent and was giving
him the works. I'm still champion and everybody knows it.
I'm not worried about anybody taking Savoldi's claims
seriously but I am worried about what's going to happen to
the wrestling game."
In case you haven't guessed, it's Jeemy Londos at the
microphone telling about his soiree with Joe Savoldi at
Chicago the other night.
"This fellow Bob Mangoff wasn't supposed to referee the
match at all. They announced emil Thiery to officiate and at
the last minute they made a switch. We wrestled twenty-six
minutes and Joe was never once behind me -- never once
"I finally got what is called a Japanese arm lock on him and
began to roll him around. I was in a sitting position because
of the hold. I slammed him from one side to the other as he
struggled to get away and finally, after some little time, the
referee tapped me on the shoulder and I saw that Savoldi's
feet were caught in the ropes. I let go, walked to the middle
of the ring, turned around and saw the referee helping
Savoldi untangle himself from the ropes.
"When he finally got free I started after him again, but
Managoff stepped in between us and raised Savoldi's hand.
He then jumped out of the ring, ran to the door, jumped into
a taxi and disappeared. Anyhow, the bout was not for the
championship. I was not thrown and the National Wrestling
Association has refused to recognize Savoldi's claim to the
title. So that's that."
The main thing that is bothering Londos is the fact that the
Illinois Wrestling Commission, being unable to figure what
it's all about, put a ban on wrestling. "If I'm crooked it's all
right to bar me or if the other fellows are crooked it's all right
to bar them, but there's no justice in barring the wrestling
game," Jeemy says.
Londos points out that he has wrestled Savoldi several times
and has never lost a fall to him. He also says that he offered
to wrestle Savoldi before the commission for no gate
receipts and that he'll do it any time and guarantee to throw
"If somebody is a better wrestler than I am I'll congratulate
him if he can beat me, but I don't like to be robbed," Jeemy
Lou Daro, local impresario, said that as far as he was
concerned he wasn't taking any sides in the controversy and
that he was willing to have Londos or Savoldi wrestle for him
-- provided their opponents were suitable. "But I won't let
them pick their own opponents," Lou said.
Londos is returning to the East almost immediately and will
defend his championship in Pennsylvania next week.
NEW GROUP FOR DARO'S MAT BOUTS
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, April 18, 1933)
A group entirely different from topnotch heavyweights who
have been appearing here during the past year is being
sought by promoter Lou Daro for the wrestling program
planned for the Olympic on the 26th of this month. This was
seen here yesterday with the promoter's announcement he
had given up plans to match several grapplers who tangled
here recently, and that he had been negotiating with Nick
Lutze, Jim Browning, Ed Lewis, Gus Sonnenberg, Don
George and Dan Koloff for the past few days.
These grapplers have been the outstanding stars in the East
during the past few years. Browning is recognized as
champion in New York as the result of his win over Lewis.
George is the recognized titleholder in Massachusetts and
the first to win the world's mat crown in Los Angeles.
George won the title from Sonnenberg, while the latter came
to the mat throne by butting and tackling Lewis out of the
crown in Boston four years ago.
JIM LONDOS OPENS LONG BEACH CARD
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, April 18, 1933)
Long Beach holds its first wrestling match in nine years
Wednesday night at the $3,000,000 Municipal Auditorium
when Jimmy Londos, world heavyweight champion, meets
Rudy Skarda, 210-pound Finnish challenger, in the three-fall
main event. In 1924, as an unknown grappler, Londos
appeared on the last mat card before a city ban ruled out the
Prince Chewchki, colorful gypsy, tackles Rube Wright of
Hollywood in the semi-windup of three falls. Oki Shikina,
Japanese star, faces Cliff Thiede, Long Beach heavyweight,
in the special. Two other preliminaries are on tap.
Revival of wrestling in Long Beach since lifting of the city
ban marks the start of semi-monthly mat cards under the
auspices of the Long Beach Eagles and under the promotion
of Lou Daro.
ILLINOIS DROPS 'RASSLING BAN
(Los Angeles Times, Sunday, April 30, 1933)
CHICAGO, April 29 (Exclusive) -- Wrestling is again in good
standing in Illinois following a court order and a ruling today
by the chairman of the Illinois Athletic Commission. The
commission put a ban on wrestling bouts following the bout
between Jim Londos and Joe Savoldi in which Savoldi was
awarded the decision.
Following a ruling today by Judge William J. Lindsay, who
held that an injunction granted Promoter John Krone still
stands, Chairman Joseph Triner of the athletic commission
issued an order permitting wrestling if the rules and
regulations of the commission are adhered to. The injunction
restrained the police from interfering with Krone's wrestling
show scheduled for next Thursday.
MR. LEWIS FALLS PREY TO SAVOLDI
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, May 23, 1933)
NEW YORK, May 22 (AP) -- Jumping Joe Savoldi, the
illustrious ex-footballer, advanced another step toward the
wrestling heights tonight with a field goal victory over old Ed
(Strangler) Lewis at Madison Square Garden.
GORGEOUS GEORGE -- WHAT A GENT!
(Portland Oregonian, Sunday, February 15, 1948)
By Grantland Rice
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 (NANA) -- It may be you have
never heard of Gorgeous George, the perfumed wrestler who
is packing them in, 10,000 at a clip, here.
To make sure you get better acquainted, we dispatched one
of the world's greatest writers to report on the gorgeous one.
The report follows:
"It was my privilege to visit Gorgeous George, the actor, in
his dressing room at the Olympic Auditorium recently. I
viewed him in brutal but beautiful action in an event called
'tag wrestlling,' a kind of grappling which resembles the
beachhead at Okinawa.
"After knocking at the dressing room door, I found Gorgeous
George disrobing for the night's rude pleasantries. His valet,
Jeffrey, who may have been born at No. 10 Downing Street,
was ministering to him as if the gorgeous one were Oscar
Wilde or Beau Brummel. I saw in Gorgeous Geoprge a
somewhat stout athlete of perhaps 40 years of age. He is
about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs some 15 stone, plus a bit
"When I explained to George that I was representing
Grantland Rice and desired an interview, his austere manner
relaxed momentarily. Her permitted me to shake his hand.
"'I am charmed,' said Gorgeous George. 'I do not read the
sports pages,' he added, 'because my mind is otherwise
"George admitted that, during his visits to beauty parlors, he
sometimes idly turns the pages of magazines there. As a
rule, however, he does not care a Jim Figg for the type of
literature to be found in these salons.
"The beautificians each week groom and marcel Gorgeous
George's extraordinary head of hair. They give him a
periodical bleach and appropriate rinses. George sometimes
wears bobby-pins. It is said that, on one occasion during a
match an opponent plucked one of these bobby-pins from
George's tresses, then jabbed the gorgeous one in a tender
place. Mr. George speaks of this as a 'vulgar stratagem.'
"In appearance, Gorgeous George seems an incarnation of
Lord Byron, a photostat of the poet when his lordship was
putting on a bit of weight in Venice, just before departing
Italy for Greece to fight and succumb on the field of
"In the dressing room, Gorgeous George's valet, Jeffrrey,
spreads out the splendid habiliments to be worn in the ring.
This night it was Gorgeous George's pleasure to wear green
trunks and green socks. He also selected a pair of white kid
shoes which were high on the calf, like the old queen quality
numbers owned by cotillion belles of Frank Croninshield's
day. Gorgeous George's dressing gown of that night was a
custom-built creation of orchid-colored silk, flamboyantly
flowered. When asked if Adrian had made this garment,
George replied, 'No, my friend, it was designed by an
eastern couturier.' Then he added, 'It contains seven yards of
"I was inviting Gorgeous George to have tea with me, but at
that moment an old and valued friend interrupted the niceties
of the occasion by peeking into the room with a somewhat
skeptical eye. This well-intentioned peeper, Mr. Ed
(Strangler) Lewis, seemed amazed to find me, an old Denver
commoner, currying favor with my social betters. The
Strangler turned sadly to go, and I thought it best to follow
after him to explain my ambitions.
"Just before the main event, the Fra Duseks arrived in the
ring to the music of boos and catcalls. Next, the partner of
Gorgeous George, Gino Garibaldi, heaved upon the scene.
"And now, after a stage wait, Gorgeous George's man
Jeffrey came up the aisle. He was carrying a large silver tray,
upon which rested a huge atomizer as well as various jars of
unguents and toilet articles. Draped over Jeffrey's right arm,
there was an orchid-colored bath mat and a small prayer rug,
the purpose of which was not immediately apparent.
"Jeffrey is a somewhat tall and spare fellow, with the
manners of a bored mortician. In public, there is never a
smile to be seen beneath the netly clipped moustache of this
gentleman's gentleman. His movements are slow and
precise. Sometimes he wears a derby hat, but this time he
appeared bareheaded. Jeffrey had on a valet's uniform of
black, but his waistcoat was a billiard-table green, to match
the green trunks and socks of the master. On nights when
Gorgeous George wears orchid trunks or Alice blue, the
valet's waistcoat corresponds in the current color scheme of
"The Dusek brothers stood snarling in their own corner.
Signor Garibaldi limbered up in the opposite nook. Jeffrey set
down his tray on the mat, then spread the bat mat upon
which Gorgeous George was to stand. He next put the
Oriental rug at a place where his master presumably was to
come through the ropes.
"Jeffrey then picked up the atomizer and began to disinfect
the entire ring area with a perfumed edition of DDT.
"A lusty murmur arose from the audience as Gorgeous
George strode up the aisle. Like a graduate of Sandringham,
his feet kept p;erfect time to the coronation hymn of Queen
Victoria. His marceled head arose above the collar of his
orchid robe, and his imperial profile was masklike as he
marched toward the ring. For a moment I thought that he
was about to be ordained as archbishop of Canterbury.
"At the introduction of visiting celebrities, Gorgeous George
indifferently examined his manicure. And now Primo
Carnera, former pugilistic heavyweight champion of the
world, and of more recent date a wrestler by occupation, was
formally presented to the crowd. The gigantic Primo shook
hands all around, and finally extended his mighty paw as a
token of good-fellowship to Gorgeous George.
"The throng was amazed and so was Carnera when
Gorgeous George refused to shake hands. Instead, he
glanced coldly at Carnera. A look of embarrassment such as
never was seen on Carnera's face except at the time when
Max Baer knocked him bowledgged, no p;ossessed the jowls
and chops of the snubbed athlete.
This is the best report on a rugged athlete that we have read
in many years.
(ED. NOTE -- This version of the Fowler/Rice article appears
truncated. If anyone has a longer, or the full, version, the
editor would be most appreciative if it could be forwarded to
him. See addresses above.)
SOME 1948 ODDS & ENDS FROM THE MAT
(At this time, both Seattle newspapers -- The Times and The
Post-Intelligencer -- refused, via editorial ukase, to print the
results of professional wrestling matches because the
papers' managing editors had somehow gotten the idea the
sham bouts represented an affront to society. The papers
did, however, accept paid advertisements announcing the
Portland -- Monday, April1 12 -- Jack Lipscomb beat Frank
Stojack (nontitle bout), Frankie Hart drew Paavo Ketonen,
Buck Weaver beat Glen Knox DQ, Phantom beat Tommy
Nilan (George Dusette referee)
Portland -- Monday, April 19 -- Frankie Hart-Buck Weaver
beat Jack Lipscomb-Glen Knox, George Dusette beat Gust
Johnson, Jack Poppenheim drew Phantom
Portland -- Monday, April 26 -- George Dusette beat Jack
Lipscomb, Rufus Jones beat Buck Weaver, Phantom drew
Gust Johnson, Frankie Hart drew Glen Knox
Portland -- Monday, May 3 -- Frank Stojack beat George
Dusette (defended Pacific Coast lightheavyweight title), Alex
Kasaboski beat Buck Weaver, Rufus Jones drew Al Szasz,
Glen Knox beat George O'Hara (Labor Temple)
Seattle -- Monday, May 3 -- Gordon Hessel-Jack Kiser vs.
Red Shadow-Bill Hunter, Rufus Jones vs. Frank Stojack,
Gust Johnson vs. Al Szasz (scheduled card)
Portland -- Monday, May 10 -- Jack Kiser beat Paavo
Ketonen, Jack Poppenheim (later Kurt Von Poppenheim)
beat Phantom, Jack Lipscomb beat Alex Kasaboski, Al
Szasz beat Glen (Buddy) Knox; Szasz beat Lipscomb, Kiser
beat Poppenheim; Szasz beat Kiser (won one-night
tournament at Labor Temple)
Seattle -- Monday, May 10 -- Gordon Hessel, Red Shadow,
Frankie Hart, Alex Kasaboski, Rufus Jones, Bob DeMarce
scheduled in battle royal, Bill Hunter vs. Gust Johnson
Seattle -- Monday, May 17 -- Rufus Jones vs. Red Shadow,
Bob DeMarce vs. Gust Johnson, Frankie Hart vs. Gordon
Hessel, Bob Kenaston vs. Bill Hunter
Seattle -- Monday, May 24 -- Red Shadow vs. Rufus Jones,
Jack Kiser-Frank Stojack vs. Gordon Hessel-Alex Kasaboski,
Bob DeMarce vs. Short (Ice Arena)
San Francisco -- Tuesday, July 27 -- Civic Auditorium
Dean Detton-Bobby Bruns beat Gorgeous George-Jeffrey
(latter injured in first fall, could not continue)
Fred Von Shacht beat Sam Menacher
Red Phantom (Tom Rice) beat Angelo Cistoldi
(ED. NOTE -- The Pacific Northwest, in the late '40s, was
mostly territory inhabited by lightheavyweight wrestlers and
an occasional junior heavy. Tex Adams, however, did
promote a trio of mostly heavyweight cards at 1948 year's
end on Wednesday nights in Portland's Civic Auditorium.)
November 17 -- Primo Carnera beat Eric Holmback DQ
(later Yukon Eric); Terry McGinnis-Swede Olson drew Rocco
Toma-Howard Cantonwine; Amio Kallio beat Bomber
November 24 -- Terry McGinnis-Earl McCready beat Eric
Holmback-Howard Cantonwine; Bud Curtis beat Rocco
Toma; Henri LaSalle beat Swede Olson
December 1 -- Terry McGinnis-Bud Curtis beat Henri
LaSalle-Eric Holmback; Swede Olson-Tiny Porter beat
Rocco Toma-Bulldog Jackson; Earl McCready beat Howard
The WAWLI Papers #292...
NEAR RIOT MARKS WRESTLING MATCH HERE
(Rochester, Minn., Post-Bulletin, Monday, Feb. 26, 1951)
By Stew Hargesheimer
Justice was triumphant at Mayo Civic auditorium Saturday
night, when the popular "tag" wrestling team comprising Pat
O'Connor (Auckland, New Zealand) and Wladek Kowalski
(Hamtramck, Michigan) took two out of three falls from the
villainous duo of the Zebra Kid (from parts unknown) and
Hans Hermann (Hanover, Germany) in the main event of a
Yes, it was justice, with a capital "J," for in front of 2,478
cash customers, most of them on the verge of hysteria
before the final fall, Kowalski finished out the bout alone and
fell on Hermann for the third and deciding fall after 47
minutes and 22 seconds of strict mayhem. The result met
with the approval of the fans, all of whom were on their
respective feet when referee Bill Kuusisto tolled off the "fatal
three" to end up a wild evening's entertainment.
The show was a well-balanced one, and to take the results
in order, in the first match (which found the two participants
following the orthodox style of grappling), Cliff Hougard of St.
Paul effectively used a series of body slams to weaken Bob
Androff before pinning the latter in 18:13. The two boys
exhibited considerable "know how" and appropriately set the
stage for the action to come in the semi-final and the final
Johnny Moochy, the Balsalm Lake, Wis., villain, put on his
best performance of the season against versatile and willing
Roy Mcclarty before the latter managed the fall after 24:36.
Moochy tried all the tricks known to the trade, utilizing the
ropes throughout the match, but he fell victim to the wily
Winnipeg sniper just five and a half minutes before the half-
hour time limit was up.
Playing to the crowd throughout, Moochy bounced off the
ropes near what proved to be the end of the trail thrice, each
time hitting the dazed McClarty smack on the button, but
the Canadian weathered the storm, and came backer after
the third bounce to fall on the Badger state grunter for the
necessary three-count. Moochy collided head-on with
McClarty the last time out and hit the canvas on his back,
providing the Winnipeg grappler a perfect chance to
complete the match.
To attempt to cover, blow by blow, the final "tag" event
would be journalistic suicide. However, it is an established
fact that the Zebra Kid started out against O'Connor. From
there on in, it's anuybody's guess as to just who was and
who wasn't in the ring.
The records show, however, that after 20 minutes and 40
seconds had elapsed, during which the Kid and Hermann
perpetrated all sorts of illegal tactics against their foes,
O'Connor managed to maneuver the latter into a fall, much
to the delight of the crowd.
After a short rest period, Kowalski (who wound up as the
evening's hero) took off against the Zebra and the mixing
was rough for several minutes. O'Connor tried a series of his
famous flying Kangaroo kicks against both the Zebra and
Hermann, but the fall came when the former fell on the
prostrate form of O'Connor at 24:20.
It was hammer-and-tongs in the final fall, as O'Connor left
the ring injured and Kowalski was left to carry the load all
alone for the final 11 minutes. He successfully managed to
ward off the double attack by the Zebra and Hermann, and,
It was announced early this afternoon by Promoter Ben
Sternberg that a possibility of a rematch of participants in
Saturday night's sensational "tag" wrestling match is out of
the question for this week's mat card at the auditorium. The
local matchmaker had hoped to book in the same foursome
(the Zebra Kid and Hans Hermann against Pat O'Connor
and Wladek Kowalski) but he learned today that Kowalski
will be headlining a card in Chicago Stadium on Saturday
Meanwhile, O'Connor, the popular Irish grappler who
teamed with Kowalski in Saturday's winning derdict,
apparently was not seriously injured when he was jumped
on by the Zebra Kid near the end of the third fall. He
returned to Minneapolis and is slated to wrestle tomorrow
night in the Minneapolis Auditorium. Pat suffered a rib injury
and was helped from the ring.
at 47:22, caught Hermann alone and downed him for the
In this last period, a bolt in the ring gave way, under the
combined weight of the four wrestlers and the referee (1,439
pounds) and it appeared that the match might have to be
halted, but the setup held fast long enough for the show to
The bout was over at 47:22, but not the action. Kuusisto
tried valiantly to get the principals to the dressing room, but
to no avail for several minutes. The Zebra and Hermann
were set to tee off on the "lonesome" Kowalski, and the big
Polish grappler wouldn't back up an inch. Order finally was
restored as fans filed towards the exits.
Extra police escorted the grapplers to the showers.
An over-enthusiastic fan at ringside early in the match,
attempting to enter the fray and help out O'Connor and
Kowalski, got a kick in the face for his efforts and at the end
of the third fall, few of the more than near capacity crowd
were sitting down.
A "tag" match definitely will feature Saturday's show,
Sternberg said today, but the participants won't be known
until tomorrow. The local impresario will check details with
the midwest mat czar, Tony Stecher in Minneapolis,
regarding the principals.
THE READERS ALWAYS WRITE -- AND MORE
Welcome to what we hope will become the most
comprehensive electronic source for pro wrestling
biographical information available today. This site will be
updated periodically with new biographies and historical
We begin our journey by looking back at the career of one of
the truly great performers in the history of wrestling, "the
Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
IN THE BEGINNING ... Born February 25, 1949 in
Memphis, Tennesee, Richard Morgan Fliehr grew up in the
icy midwest, the son of a Minneapolis physician ...
A two-sport athlete in high school, Fliehr wrestled in the
heavyweight division and won the Minnesota state title in
1967, before moving on to the University of Minnesota in
1969, where he played offensive guard for the college's
football team ...
Always a wrestling fan in his youth, Fliehr spent many a
night at local grappling shows in the Twin Cities area,
cheering on such legends as Verne Gagne and The Crusher
LEARNING TO CRAWL ...In 1971, Fliehr decided to forego
a career in medicine to pursue his dream of becoming a
professional wrestler ...Fliehr, then 22, sought out the
guidance of his boyhood idol Verne Gagne, who ran a
training camp in Minneapolis. Gagne, himself a former
Olympic wrestler, liked wrestlers with legitimate athletic
credentials and rode his students hard ...
Like so many before him, the young Fliehr couldn't stand the
pressure and dropped out of the famed academy. But unlike
most, Richard re-enrolled, and in 1972, after training under
the direction of Gagne, Ed "Wahoo" McDaniel, and Billy
Robinson, Fliehr graduated and became a full-fledged
professional wrestler (other graduates in his class were
Khosrow "The Iron Sheik" Vaziri and Olympic strongman
Ken Patera) ...
WALKING THE AISLE ... On December 10, 1972, "Ric
Flair" made his official in-ring debut, wrestling to a time-limit
draw with the late George "Scrap Iron" Gadaski (John
Kosti). He then spent most of his rookie year competing in
Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA),
where he lost more matches than he won ...
In 1973, Flair made his first-ever tour of Japan, working for
International Wrestling Enterprises (IWE) ...
In 1974, Flair's former teacher Wahoo McDaniel
recommended him to promoter Jim Crockett Jr. (an affiliate
of the National Wrestling Alliance), who brought the young
wrestler to Charlotte, North Carolina ...
Flair, billed as the cousin of "the Minnesota Wrecking Crew"
Ole & Gene Anderson (Alan "The Rock" Rogowski &
Eugene Anderson), went blonde and took the name of
"Nature Boy," taken from the legendary Buddy Rogers
(Herman "Dutch" Rohde) ...
Coincidentally, it is "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers who is
credited by many historians as the creator of the figure-four
leglock (which Flair began using as his finisher in 1978).
Rogers was also the first of only two men in history to hold
both the NWA and (W)WWF titles (Flair would
eventually become the other) ...
FLAIR FOR THE GOLD ... On July 4, 1974 in Greensboro,
N.C., Flair teamed with veteran brawler Rip Hawk (Harvey
Evers) to capture the Mid-Atlantic tag team title from Bob
Bruggers & Paul Jones (Paul Frederick) ...
In early 1975, Flair & Hawk lost the belts to Jones and his
new partner, Tiger Conway Jr. ...
Then, on July 3, 1975, Flair captured the Mid-Atlantic
televison championship (now known as the WCW World TV
title) from Paul Jones in a match in Raleigh, N.C. He lost it
back to Jones one week later, on July 10 in the same
ONLY STARS FALL FROM THE SKY ... On October 4,
1975, Flair was one of four passengers aboard a Cessna
310, when it crashed near Wilmington, N.C. Flair suffered a
broken back and it was feared that his career might be
The other passengers aboard that plane were
wrestler/announcer/promoter David Crockett, who suffered
mild brain damage due to the crash; wrestler Tim "Mr.
Wrestling" Woods (George Burrell Woodlin), who escaped
with relatively minor injuries compared to the others; and
wrestlers Bob Bruggers and then-U.S. champion Johnny
Valentine (John Wisniski Sr.), neither of whom were able to
wrestle again ...
The pilot of the plane, however, remained in a coma for
several years before eventually dying. In the aftermath,
lawsuits were filed against the pilot's estate, citing
negligence, and in 1980, Flair emerged victorious in court,
saying that the injuries he suffered in the crash had severely
limited his ability to perform certain moves in the ring ...
In fact, Flair overcompensated so much to protect himself
that a huge calcium deposit developed on his back and
required further surgery (you can still see that scar to this
TO BE THE MAN ... By late 1975, Flair returned to the ring,
and the following year, he teamed with Greg Valentine (John
Wisniski Jr.) to capture the Mid-Atlantic tag straps from
Conway Jr. & Dino Bravo (the late Adolpho Brescino)...
It was in 1976, that Flair began one of the most legendary
fueds of his career against his former trainer Chief Wahoo
McDaniel (by then the reigning Mid-Atlantic heavyweight
In televised angles (storylines), Flair destroyed Wahoo's
Indian headress and nearly blinded McDaniel, setting up a
war that would draw huge crowds throughout the Carolinas
and Virginia ...
The two then proceeded to trade the Mid-Atlantic belt back
and forth. On May 24, 1976, Flair beat McDaniel for the title
in Charlotte, only to lose it back on September 11, 1976 in
Greenville, S.C. Flair then began his final reign as Mid-
Atlantic champion on October 16, 1976 in Greensboro,
when he defeated Wahoo again. This time, he held it a little
more than a month, dropping it back to McDaniel on
November 30, 1976 in Raleigh ...
McDaniel then turned his attention to Flair's partner Greg
Valentine (who would solidify his own reputation in wrestling
by "breaking" Wahoo's leg in a legendary televised match in
Raleigh). Flair, on the other hand, had new adventures in
store, as he beat the late Rufus R. "Freight Train" Jones
(Carey Lloyd) for the Mid-Atlantic TV title ...
Besides competing in singles matches, Flair & Valentine,
who were still the Mid-Atlantic tag champs, also captured
the World tag team title (JCP/WCW version, called the
"NWA" World tag title, though not recognized by the
alliance), beating Ole & Gene Anderson on Christmas
Night of 1976 in Greensboro, sending Ole out on a stretcher
in the process ...
The Andersons regained the belts on May 8, 1977 in
Charlotte, besting the blonde duo in a steel cage match...
ENTER THE DRAGON ... Ricky Steamboat (Richard
Blood), billed as the son of Hawaiian great Sam Steamboat
(Sam Mokuahi), came to Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) as
a protege of Wahoo McDaniel. During a famous TV angle,
Steamboat knocked Flair out cold with a backhand chop
during an interview to set up a bout where the rookie
challenged "the Nature Boy" for the TV title ...
The match, held June 22, 1977, at WRAL-TV studios in
Raleigh, was a superstar-making showcase for both men,
with Steamboat winning the contest and the title when he
pinned Flair following a double-handed karate thrust off the
top rope ...
Afterwards, as Steamboat was celebrating, Flair and
Valentine jumped him and gave him a severe beating. To
get revenge, Steamboat teamed with the popular Paul
Jones to beat Flair & Valentine for the Mid-Atlantic tag
belts on August 22, 1977 in Greensboro ...
WORD GETS AROUND ... By this point, Flair was already
being touted by those within the industry as a future NWA
World heavyweight champion. He beat the late Bobo Brazil
(Houston Harris) on August 1, 1977 in Richmond, Virginia,
to begin his first reign as U.S. heavyweight champion
(JCP/WCW version, called the "NWA" U.S. title, though not
officially recognized by the alliance). This set up an
eleborate angle that is still being copied today ...
Prior to the existence of groups like the NWO and Four
Horsemen, Flair ran in a gang of heel (bad guy) wrestlers
with Greg Valentine and Blackjack Mulligan (Bob Windham)
as his cohorts. Mulligan had held the U.S. title on three
separate occasions over the course of a year-long feud with
Paul Jones and the thrust of the angle was that it was his
main goal in life to recapture that belt which he had just
recently lost to Brazil in Norfolk, Virginia (Brazil had
previously held the Detroit version of the U.S. title, so his
gimmick was that of the former champ coming back for one
last run) ...
So when Flair took the U.S. belt from Brazil (and thus,
became the promotion's number one contender for the NWA
World title), there were immediate rumblings about Flair, as
the weary champion, having to defend against his friend
After weeks of hyping the potential Flair-Mulligan match, Ric
finally agreed to defend the belt against the big Texan. But
before the bout could take place, Ricky Steamboat again
stepped into the picture, defeating Flair for the title on
November 11, 1977 in Richmond, Virginia ...
After the title loss, Flair and Mulligan appeared on television
together, with Flair accusing JCP of conspiring against him
by pitting him against his friend. He vowed that a
championship belt would never come between him and
Mulligan again ...
Flair then turned his attention toward tag bouts once again,
teaming with Valentine to regain the World tag straps for a
second time on October 30, 1977, once again beating the
Andersons in Greensboro (only this time, it was Gene who
left on a stretcher) ...
Mulligan, on the other hand, defeated Steamboat in
December of 1977 to begin his fourth and final reign as U.S.
champion. He later lost the belt to Tim "Mr. Wrestling"
Woods in March of 1978 at the Greensboro Coliseum ...
Woods' reign only lasted a few weeks, as he was upended
by Flair on April 1, 1978 in the old Charlotte Coliseum (now
called Independence Arena). Prior to the match, they did an
angle on TV where Woods played an early "April Fool's"
trick on Flair, conning "the Nature Boy" into signing for a
"title versus hair" match ...
It is interesting to note that in the semi-main event on this
card, Flair's fellow student from the Gagne training camp,
Ken Patera, beat their old mentor, Wahoo McDaniel, to
capture the Mid-Atlantic title, which he went on to hold for
the next year ...
On April 5, 1978, an angle took place at WRAL studios in
Raleigh that people still talk about to this day. When
Mulligan came out to congratulate his good buddy Flair on
his U.S. title victory, the subject of Mulligan never getting his
title shot all those months ago was brought up. Thus, an
argument between the two friends ensued, Flair provoked
Mulligan, and the big cowboy finally gave "the Nature Boy"
his long-anticipated smack in the mouth ...
Later in the show, while Mulligan was in the ring wrestling
Tony Russo (George Gouliovas), Flair came out wearing
Mulligan's favorite cowboy hat (supposedly a gift from
Waylon Jennings) and proceeded to rip it to shreds ...
To retaliate, Mulligan strutted out during Flair's bout with
Ted Oates, wearing Ric's $5,000 peacock robe. He then
systematically reduced it to a pile of torn rags, as the fans
went completely wild ...
After this went down, Flair put a bounty on Mulligan's head,
setting up one of the best big-man fueds in the sport's
history between Mulligan and the late Big John Studd (John
Minton). While neither Mulligan nor Studd were great
technical wrestlers, their bloody Bunkhouse matches
were in many ways the forerunner to the style exemplified
later by such groups as Extreme Championship Wrestling
Mulligan finally fought his way through the bounty hunters
(Studd, Baron Von Raschke, Cyclone Negro, Skandor
Akbar, etc.) to get his title shot with Flair. However, the big
man came out on the losing end due to all the "injuries"
suffered at the hands of Flair's paid henchmen ...
Shortly thereafter, Mulligan and his longtime friend and
partner, Dick Murdoch, bought the financially-troubled
Amarillo wrestling promotion from the Funk family and left
JCP to return to Texas and run their own cards ...
SPANNING THE GLOBE ... In 1978, Flair made his first
tour with the prestigious All Japan Pro Wrestling promotion.
It was on this visit to the Land of the Rising Sun, that he
shocked the entire industry when he got a pinfall victory over
former NWA World champ Shohei "Giant" Baba (the owner
of All Japan and a prominent member of the National
Wrestling Alliance) ...
Flair also began making appearances for other promoters
throughout North America, building an international
reputation and politicking NWA executives for a World title
He wrestled for Sam Muchnick's St. Louis Wrestling Club
(then the world headquarters of the NWA), Fritz Von Erich's
Big Time Wrestling (later known as World Class
Championship Wrestling), Frank Tunney's Maple Leaf
Wrestling (which at the time was basically the Canadian
franchise of JCP), Eddie Graham's Championship Wrestling
from Florida, and the nationally-televised Georgia
Championship Wrestling (seen on SuperStation WTCG,
which later became TBS) ...
Flair also made his WWF debut, pinning Pete Sanchez
(Gino Caruso) in New York's Madison Square Garden. It
should be pointed out that the WWF was at this time an
affiliate member of the NWA ...
HOME FIRES BURNING ... Despite his many travels, it
was back in Flair's home base of JCP that he really began to
establish himself as one of the sport's hottest draws. His
long-standing fued with Ricky Steamboat was rekindled on
October 25, 1978 when he called his old rival out before
the cameras at WRAL to confront him ...
Flair offered to put the U.S. belt on the line so that they
could settle their differences once and for all. However,
when Steamboat came out, Ric attacked him and
proceeded to drag him all around the studio floor, leaving a
hideous burn on the side of his face ...
To add insult to injury, Flair then teamed with Big John
Studd on October 30, 1978 in Greenville, S.C., to beat
Steamboat & Jones for the Mid-Atlantic tag belts ...
Then on November 2, 1978, in one of the most famous and
often-repeated angles in wrestling history, Flair came out on
TV with two models (one of whom would later become
Steamboat's real-life wife Bonnie) and began taunting
Steamboat. Ricky calmly walked to the interview set, and
without saying a word, slapped Flair, threw him in the ring,
and stripped him to his underwear. An irate Flair then gave
a completely psychotic interview (wearing nothing but
underwear and a necktie) and the promotion was officially on
Steamboat & Jones then regained the Mid-Atlantic belts
from Flair & Studd on November 5, 1978 in Greensboro,
and Steamboat vowed to recapture the U.S. strap as well ...
He then proceeded to make good on that promise, and after
the two packed arenas throughout the Carolinas, Virginia,
Ontario, and upstate New York, Steamboat defeated Flair to
win the belt on December 18, 1978 in Toronto's Maple Leaf
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER ... Despite the fact that Flair &
Valentine were stripped of the World tag belts in a TV angle
by NWA President Eddie Graham in April of 1978, it wasn't
exactly a bad month for Flair, as on April 4, 1979, in a
classic steel cage match in Greensboro, Flair defeated
Steamboat to begin his third reign as U.S. champion. He
then went on to defend the gold against a wide assortment
of challengers, including "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka (James
Reiher), Paul Orndorff, and Jumpin' Jim Brunzell ...
By this point, a lot of people in the industry began to take
note that despite the fact he was playing the heel, an awful
lot of fans seemed to be cheering for Ric Flair. Keep in mind
that in 1978, this was indeed quite rare ...
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE ... On June 26, 1979, "the
American Dream" Dusty Rhodes pinned Flair in the
Greensboro Coliseum to seemingly win the U.S. title.
However, the NWA later reversed that decision and gave the
belt back to "the Nature Boy" when they ruled that the
special referee had not acted impartially in the match. That
referee? The original "Nature Boy," Buddy Rogers ...
By this point, the once-popular Paul Jones had become the
most hated heel in JCP. He had turned on tag partner Ricky
Steamboat during a two-ring battle royal in Charlotte and
had teamed with Baron Von Raschke (Jim Raschke) to
capture the World tag title from Paul Orndorff & Jimmy
Snuka on April 28, 1979 ...
Then, in what would turn out to be a pivotal moment in
wrestling history, Jones turned on Flair and a folk hero was
born. It all started during a match in which Jones faced
Steamboat in Greensboro. Flair came to ringside and
attempted to nail Steamboat with a chair. Ricky ducked,
and Flair KOed Jones instead ...
Later that night, as Flair wrestled Snuka, Jones retaliated,
knocking Ric out with a chairshot of his own. The stage was
set for a major surprise ...
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS ... As JCP announcer Rich
Landrum (an early host of "World Wide Wrestling") was
conducting a promotional interview segment, Flair called
Steamboat out before the TV cameras. Instead of picking a
fight with him as he had done so many times in the past,
Flair asked Steamboat to be his partner against Jones &
Von Raschke. As collateral, Flair put up "$10,000" to ensure
that he wouldn't doublecross Steamboat during the match.
Ricky accepted ...
For the next couple of months, Steamboat & Flair battled
Jones & Von Raschke throughout the JCP circuit, but did
not take the belts, despite drawing huge crowds wherever
they went ...
At about the same time, the Amarillo promotion went belly-
up and Blackjack Mulligan returned to JCP. Soon, Flair &
Mulligan reunited and captured the World tag belts from
Jones & Von Raschke in early August of 1979 ...
Because of "NWA bylaws," on August 15, 1979, Flair was
forced to give up either the tag belts or the U.S. belt.
Mulligan told him that he shouldn't sacrifice the U.S. title,
but in an emotional interview, Flair gave up the singles title
to thank his old friend for forgiving him ...
Then on August 22, 1979 at WRAL studios in Raleigh,
Jones & Von Raschke beat Flair & Mulligan to recapture the
GENERATIONS ... It was around this time that JCP began
running a trivia contest with an expensive watch as the
prize. The questions were, "Who invented the figure four
leglock?" and "Who was the only man to hold both the NWA
and (W)WWF titles?" The answer, of course, was Buddy
Rogers, who was brought in to make the drawing on "World
After awarding the prize, Rogers went on a tirade, insulting
the "imposter Nature Boy," Ric Flair, who he condemned for
ripping off his persona (in reality, Dutch Rohde himself had
taken the "Nature Boy" moniker from an old song and had
even taken the name "Buddy Rogers" from a 1930s movie
Flair, treating Rogers with the utmost respect, came out to
try and calm the legend down, but to no avail. Buddy
screamed that Flair didn't even know how to apply the figure
four properly and insisted that he demonstrate on upstart
wrestler Len Denton (who later gained fame as The
Grappler). Flair agreed, but when he locked the move on,
Rogers began stomping him mercilessly ...
Shortly thereafter, Rogers put together a stable of wrestlers
(which magazine editor Bill Apter dubbed "Rogers' Death
Squad"). It consisted of Ken Patera, Big John Studd, and
babyface-turned-heel Jimmy Snuka ...
Snuka won a tournament on September 1, 1979 in Charlotte
to win the U.S. heavyweight championship, beating
Steamboat in the finals. Others in the tournament were Jim
Brunzell, Johnny Weaver (John Meyers), Bruiser Brody
(Frank Goodish), Studd, Bob Marcus, Tim Woods, Wahoo
McDaniel, Rufus R. Jones, Patera, and believe it or not,
Buddy Rogers himself (who beat Marcus in under a minute
with the figure four, only to be eliminated via a countout loss
to Steamboat later on) ...
Still to come, the fued with Snuka, the betrayal by Greg
Valentine, and the skinny, kilt-wearing loudmouth who rode
into town on a Greyhound bus, Rowdy Roddy Piper ..
(More to come...)
The WAWLI Papers #293...
QUESTIONS, ANSWERS KEEP TAB ON WRESTLING
(Sports Pictorial Review, New York City, Dec. 8, 1947)
Questions regarding wrestling information are answered in
this corner. Address inquiries to Sports Editor, Sports
Pictorial Review, 1476 Broadway, New York City.
FRANK GRANIERI, Brooklyn -- Henry J. Landry of Friars
Point, Miss., president of the National Wrestling Association
of America and treasurer of the National Boxing Association,
is credited with the statement that wrestling matches attract
more fans annually than does professional boxing. At any
rate, considering how little publicity wrestling gets, it is
holding more than its own.
CHESTER KENNEDY, Jamaica -- Danny McShain of Los
Angeles is recognized in some parts of the country as light
heavyweight champion. Middleweight recognition is
extended to Gory Guerrero of Mexico City.
ANDREW MADJEWSKI, Manhattan -- Greatest linguist
among wrestlers is supposedly the Russian Kola Kwariani,
who is credited with speaking 25 languages perfectly.
Kwariani, like many other wrestlers, is also an excellent
chess player. Milo Steinborn is still another.
S.M., Manhattan -- You must have Sebastian Miller in the
"Swiss Strong Man" in mind. It was Miller's specialty to
break cobblestones with his fists. When Miller retired from
wrestling, he opened a restaurant in East 54th Street, which
IRVING STEINDLER, Bronx -- Stanislaus Zbyszko is
supposed to be back in New York, holding down a
watchman's job. The Pole, even in his hey-day as a wrestler,
never mastered entirely the catch-as-catch-can style of
grappling, in fact, his squat physical makeup, his endurance,
his speed and his tremendous strength had little occasion to
be versed in the Ameican style of wrestling. His real baby
was Greco-Roman wrestling, in which he excelled.
PAT DOHERTY, Ridgewood -- Primo Carnera entered the
United States on an artist's visa and was therefore entitled to
accept professional engagements.
FRED BAYER, Ridgewood -- What you say is entirely news
to us. We are not aware that Max Schmeling intends to take
up wrestling. He is now 43 years old and is boxing again in
Germany with some measure of success. With international
competition lacking, the Germans are apt to endure even old
man Schmeling's ring antics.
L.K., Newark -- Latest reports have it that George
Hackenschmidt left the French Riviera for London, where he
is supposed to be teaching philosophy on the faculty of a
London university. Hackenschmidt has written several books
on that subject.
ZEBRA KID SCRAPBOOKS AVAILABLE TO WAWLI
(ED. NOTE -- George Bollas Jr., of Aurora, Ohio, has made
available for WAWLI readers a number of clippings found in
his dad's old scrapbooks, spanning the late '40s, '50s and
'60s. This treasure trove is tapped for this issue and will be
for many subsequent editions of The WAWLI Papers. Our
gracious thanks to George Jr., who -- we might remind you -
- is always on the lookout for old match tapes involving his
illustrious father and any other memorabilia that fans might
be willing to part with. If you can help George Jr. in his
quest, please get in touch with email@example.com and I'll
relay the message to him. Or write to him directly at 250
Poplar Ct., Aurora, Ohio 44202.)
BOLLAS, BRONKO SIGN FOR RE-MATCH
(St. Paul Dispatch, Sunday, April 15, 1951)
George Bollas, who lost his "rubber match" bout with Bronko
Nagurski by disqualification, will get another shot at the
former Minnesota football star.
Promoter Eddie Williams announced Saturday he had
arranged the rematch as his headliner on Friday's wrestling
card at the St. Paul Armory.
Bollas demanded the rematch immediately after last Friday's
bout, but there was no chance for negotiations at the time
because the brawl that started in the ring extended to the
dressing room, Williams said.
Williams, naturally, was anxious for the rematch after the
two grapplers had drawn a capacity crowd. Nagurski, he
said, accepted the bout Friday because he doesn't want his
victory under a cloud.
Nagurski had been pinned, but was attacked by the 325-
pound Bollas after the bout was officially over. Referee Bill
Kuusisto then awarded the bout to Nagurski by
disqualification of Bollas and a near-riot resulted. Wrestlers
on the preliminary card finally subdued Bollas but the
argument went on in the dressing room.
Bollas demanded a "neutral" referee for the next meeting and
Nagurski said that was all right with him.
Williams said Saturday he has wired Max Baer and Jack
Dempsey, now in New York, and Alex Fidler of Cedar
BRONK WHIPS BOLLAS, SANS REFEREE
(Minneapolis Star, Saturday, April 21, 1951)
Bronko Nagurski and George Bollas, unimpeded by referee
Wally Karbo's presence, turned off the stops at the St. Paul
Armory Friday night until the Bronk was declared the
unofficial winner at 22:30 by the timekeeper.
Karbo was resting peacefully in the dressing room after
being flattened by Bollas and carried from the ring.
Leo Nomellini pinned Stan Mayslack at 11:27 in the semi-
windup, and Pat O'Connor won the special event when Hans
Hermann was disqualified for illegal tactics.
Steve Gob and Johnny Moochy drew in the 30-minute
LOOK OUT, ZEB, WHIPPER'S ON THE WARPATH
(Toronto Globe & Mail, Friday, November 16, 1951)
There's nothing like the unmasking of a varmint to make the
wrestling public perk up like with a shot in the arm and, if
you would believe Whipper Watson, who takes care of all
kinds of varmints, from English lords to disguised football
players, that's what's in store next Thursday at the Gardens
as wrestling revives itself after a two-week layoff.
The Whipper, who has been watching from the wing the
antics of a fellow who goes under the name of The Zebra,
has been saying that it's high time someone plucked the
mask from the face of the fast fat man. The 305-pound
Whatsits who has been terrorizing hero and villain alike in
these parts for too many months may just possibly have
overreached himself in p;ounding Mons. Francois tunney's
desk, demanding a match with the British Empire champ.
Too, he wants a shot at Lou Thesz, the NWA world champ,
and one of the quickest ways to do it is to beat the Whip.
Also on the card are a couple of Sumo Japs (remember
them?) taking on two local characters, Steve Stanlee and
Mayes McLain, in a tag team match. That should be
something! And, for those who missed it last time, there's
Maedayama, the Sumo grand champ, and Yakatayama in a
real Sumo match. Also prelims. Gee Whiz!
RESULTS, MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, NOV. 22, 1951
Whipper Watson, 236, and The Zebra Kid, 305, wrestled to
a draw. Bout stopped by 11 o'clock curfew after 37 minutes,
58 seconds of wrestling.
Team of Fujitayama, 305, and Onoumi, 300, declared
winner when team of Steve Stanlee, 232, and Mayes
McLain, 250, disqualified at 17:53.
Maedayama, 330 won Sumo bout over Yakatayama, 360,
two falls to one.
Bobo Brazil, 247, defeated Lou Sjoberg, 235, with flying
head scissor at 20 minutes.
Stan Mayslak, 245, and Suni War Cloud, 235, wrestled 20
minutes to a draw.
EXCLUSIVE! WHY THE ZEBRA KID HAD TO RETIRE
(publication unidentified, perhaps Wrestling World)
By Phil Berger
For nearly two decades, from 1947-1968, he was one of the
most feared wrestlers in the world. He roamed from
continent to continent and, with a no-holds-barred style,
devastated an international assortment of opponents, the
best on the clobe. George Bollas, the Zebra Kid, was a mat
But recently the cumulative toll of 19 years of wrestling
violence forced the hooded master of mayhem to call it quits.
More to the point was an injury to his left eye that required
two operations in London's St. Thomas Hospital.
"I was afraid of cancer," said Bollas. "It had me pretty
Fortunately, it was not cancer. But the injury was serious
enough to cause the Zebra Kid to give thought to hanging up
The eye trouble was the result of an injury he suffered in
Australia a while back. "There was a riot," Bollas recalled,
"and the mob came after me. I got hit with six chairs. One
split the left eye, the pulpy part just beneath the brow.
"Then recently I was wrestling in Germany and started
getting banged around on that part of the eye. It caused it to
swell. A growth developed inside the flesh. That's when I
began to worry."
London physicians advised him to have an operation. In July
1968, Bollas entered St. Thomas. Another operation was
required in September. The results?
"The eye's okay," said Bollas. "There's no cancer. I had it
tested. Here, I'll show you this letter from the hospital."
The Zebra Kid produced the following letter on hospital
"Dear Mr. Bollas,
"I am writing just to confirm that the lump we removed from
your eyelid was quite harmless and probably the result of a
buried stitch following your operation in Australia three years
Although his eye was pronounced fit for daily use, the
chances of the injury recurring at the resumption of his
wrestling career were not remote. And though Bollas'
fondness for the sport is deep-rooted, the longer he
considered his future the more certain he became that it was
time to retire.
"It wasn't just the eye," he said. "Sure, I love wrestling but
it's been a long hard haul. I'm tired of the traveling. It's time
to settle down. I want to be with my family more. I want to
stop living out of the suitcase. I want to get a home for
Angela (his wife) and George Junior (his seven-year-old
son). You look at my face and you know I've paid my dues to
Quite true. The face under the mask resembles a well
traveled road map. His thick nose has been steamrollered
flat and his face is a monument to violence. The voice is
deep and gravelly like movie star Broderick Crawford's.
Nobody would mistake the Zebra Kid for a bank clerk or
So Bollas has returned to the States from England where,
four years ago, he settled down to finish out his career. At
the time, he had vague thoughts of staying permanently in
London. But, after alternating successes and
disappointments and finally the eye surgery, he packed his
bags and returned on the Queen Elizabeth to the States and
his home in Ohio, where it all began for him.
The youngest of four children, Bollas was born in Warren,
Ohio, where his father operated a restaurant. In high school,
he worked in the steel mills, but his interest in sports saved
him from that back-breaking labor.
He went to Ohio State University and lettered in football and
wrestling. "I went out for wrestling just to keep in shape for
football, but wrestling came to be my sport."
As a collegiate wrestler, he never lost a fall. He won National
Intercollegiate, National AAU and Big Ten heavyweight titles.
After graduating, he turned pro to meet pressing financial
obligations. His reputation earned at Ohio State made him a
popular performer in the Youngstown-Columbus, Ohio area.
"I was doing okay wrestling there when Frank Sexton, a
great pro wrestler who had gone to Ohio State, told me to
head to New York," Bollas said.
"I went to New York, but I got into trouble with the New York
Athletic Commission for a scrap I had with Mattie Mario. I
punched him out when he slapped me and that touched off a
When the New York commission barred him from wrestling
in the territory under its jurisdiction, Bollas was forced to
assume the mask and head south. He wrestled as the
Intercollegiate Dark Secret, staying three months in
Charlotte, North Carolina.
From Charlotte, he moved to Hollywood and his last mat
identity as the Zebra Kid. "That name was a natural for me,"
Bollas said. "When I was at Ohio State, I had stretch marks
on my body from gaining weight too fast (when he retired he
weighed more than 325 pounds). The marks looked like
stripes and even in those days the guys called me 'Zeeb.' So
it just seemed fitting to call myself the Zebra Kid."
As the Zebra Kid, Bollas tangled with the best wrestlers in
the nation. Some of his more memorable matches were
against Buddy Rogers, Lou Thesz, Yukon Eric, Mike and
Ben Sharpe, and Killer Kowalski.
As his fame increased, the Zebra Kid sought more worlds to
conquer. He came to the Continent, and soon grew fond of
London. In 1964, he announced he was staying in London,
saying, "This is a good wrestling country and there's plenty
of action for a wrestler. More important, travelling is not as
bad a problem here. In the States, there are 3,000 miles of
country to cover, while England has a range of 1,000 miles
at the most.
"This means that by living in London, which is roughly in the
middle of England, I can wrestle anywhere in the country
and still get home that evening and be with my family the
Despite the high hopes he entertained for a wrestling life in
Europe, things did not always work out for Bollas.
"In Greece," Bollas said, "I lost a fortune. I tried to
wrestling there. I wrestled and promoted at the same time.
The trouble was that my cousin, who was a director in the
operations, took the money and beat it out of town.
"I figure I lost $5,000 to $6,000. It wasn't just the money,
though, that hurt. More than that, we were relatives. I was
living in his house. And the wrestling shows I was
performing in were drawing plenty good. The first time I
wrestled in Athens, there was a crowd of about 15,000
people. I beat George Gordienko, the Canadian-Russian.
There were about 15 or 16 shows. My cousin put the money
in his name rather than the company's.
"Of course, I tried to imprison him, but it was no use. I had
five different lawyers, but they couldn't or didn't want to help
me. The whole thing was rigged against me. I was the
foreigner, and they weren't about to get one of their own into
So he left Greece for Beirut, Lebanon, penniless. "Things
began to pick up," he remembered. "This was 1965 and I
wrestled in a tournament in Beirut. I finished second and
earned more than a thousand dollars for eight matches.
From Beirut, I went to French Cameroon for another
tournament. Same thing. Finished second. Made a
Just when his prospects looked promising, Bollas' affairs
commenced to turn bad. "I ended up broke in France after
trying to make a last bid to get my money from my cousin.
"Not only didn't I have any money, but the car I was driving
broke down. Let me tell you, it was one of the really low
points of my life. I didn't think I'd ever be able to pick myself
"But fortunately I got help from a priest. He helped me
contactmy wife, and somehow I got back to England and
resumed my career. Nineteen sixty-six was a quiet year. I
made enough money ot pay the bills. I was working pretty
steadily. No complaints.
"In '67, I went to South Africa, and the response was very
good. Then I went to Rhodesia, where the crowds were
enormous, too. For a 42-year-old man, I still could get up
and go with the best."
Indeed he could, and the customers paid to see it. In
Joahnnesburg, South Africa, the largest crowd in the
country's history, 20,000 strong, watched Bollas wrestle
against Jan Wilkins. In Germany, where he went after his
successful African tour, he was proving just as popular until
sidelined by the eye injury.
"There were a lot of long months for me," Bollas recalled.
"Remembering all the places I'd been to and all the wrestling
I'd done. I've wrestled close to 5,000 bouts in my lifetime
and done pretty well. Before television came in, I was
grossing over $32,000 a year. Yeah, I was remembering all
that while recuperating from the operations and wondering
what to do."
Finally, he decided.
"I had to give up wrestling for a living," he said, "but I
can't really sever my ties with the sport. So I plan to continue
my association with wrestling now as a coach in the state of
Ohio. Perhaps at Ohio State University. If not there,
"Maybe you're wondering if I'm qualified. Well, having
wrestled as a pro gives me certain credentials. But more
than that I've been involved as a wrestling coach. When I
was in the States, I was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio
"I used to coach the ROTC boys, about 1,000 a week, in
wrestling. Here in London, I kept my hand in coaching, too. I
had some success with training Dennis McNamara. He was
and still is a London bobby (police officer). When he came to
me, he knew a lot about wrestling but not that much about
conditioning himself. He thought he needed heavyweight
training, that is working out against boys his size. But I
changed his regimen. I worked him against successive boys
much lighter than him. I'd put these quick light guys on him
and tell Dennis to bust loose. It developed his tamina and
quickness to face one after another of these quick fellows.
"then, after that kind of gruelling work out, I'd put a 100-
pound sack of sand on his back and tell him to start running.
He didn't realize what conditioning was until he started
training under me. He got to the point where he could run
two miles with that bag on his back, and this after working
"But it paid off for him. He wound up beating a guy who'd
beat him the year before -- in the competition for the national
title. Took him in two straight pinfalls. He also won the world
amateur police championship and went on to the Tokyo
Olympics, where he finished fifth in the world, beating Sato
of Japan in 87 seconds. So I guess you could say, coaching
is not foreign to me."
Nor is fame foreign to the Zebra Kid. And though his fame
has brought imitators, among wrestling fans all over the
world, it has been well known that there was only one Zebra
Kid -- George Bollas.
(ED. NOTE--Dennis McNamara of Great Britain did, indeed,
finish fifth in the super heavyweight division of freestyle
wrestling at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.)
SPEAKING OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES . . .
At least 15 men who later earned recognition as professional
wrestlers in North America earned gold, silver or bronze
medals in Olympic Games wrestling and weightlifting
competitions. If anyone can add to this list, please send the
information to the editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Freestyle Wrestling/Gold Medalists---
--Robin Reed, USA, featherweight (134 1/2 pounds), 1924
--John Spellman, USA, lightheavyweight (192 lbs.), 1924
--Johan Richtoff, Sweden, heavyweight, 1928 & 1932
--Pete Mehringer, USA, lightheavyweight (192 lbs.), 1932
--Nat Pendleton, USA, heavyweight, 1920
--Danny Hodge, USA, middleweight (174 pounds), 1956
--Fred Meyer, USA, heavyweight, 1920
--Chris Taylor, USA, super heavyweight, 1972 (this was after
Taylor lost the highly disputed match to the eventual gold
medalist, Oleksander Medvid of the Soviet Union, after being
assessed a penalty for "passivity" by a Turkish referee who
was thereafter banned from officiating international
Graeco-Roman Wrestling/Gold Medalists----
--Henri Deglane, France, heavyweight, 1924
--Axel Cadier, Sweden, lightheavyweight (192 lbs.), 1936
--Johan (John) Olin, Finland, heavyweight, 1912
--Ferenc Holuban, Hungary, lightweight (165 1/2 lbs.), 1906
--Paul Anderson, USA, heavyweight, 1956
--Dimitrios Tofalos, Greece, heavyweight (two-hand lift),
--Harold Sakata, USA, lightheavyweight (183 lbs.), 1948
(best known as Tosh Togo in the pro ring and as "Oddjob" in
the James Bond movie adventure, "Goldfinger"; later,
wrestled as "Oddjob" in various venues around the world
The WAWLI Papers #294...
(ED. NOTE--The New York Daily News was the first
metropolitan daily to feature a regular column devoted to
wrestling, at least in the so-called "modern" age of WCW
and WWF. The anonymous "Slammer" writes it, and in the
interest of wrestling scholarship -- years from now, people
will wonder what pro wrestling was all about in the late
1990s -- we present a series of columns from the past two or
WWF SET TO ROLL DICE ON LAS VEGAS CASINO
(New York Daily News, Friday, August 14, 1998)
By The Slammer
Just when you think the wonderful and whacky world of
wrestling has no surprises left, the WWF makes you think
Try this one: The WWF Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas?
A week ago Wednesday, the WWF submitted the highest
bid at a bankruptcy auction in Las Vegas for the Debbie
Reynolds Hotel and Casino.
Their winning bid was $10.5 million. This past Monday, the
WWF wired $2.13 million as a 20% down payment on the
property. If all goes well, they hope to close the sale by Aug.
And the WWF will seek to obtain its own gaming license.
This is a daring venture for Vince McMahon, who has blazed
new trails in the past and is attempting to sift new sands for
It is far too early to know their plans but you can "bet" the
hotel/casino will have a wrestling theme.
I can only imagine the themes for this place in the desert
Let's begin with Robert De Niro as the casino boss.
And people must eat, so how about the Undertaker Cafe,
whose hours would be sunset to sunrise? How about a
Stone Cold Stunner Salad? And a Funk Junk Fast Food
For souvenirs, how about the Chyna Shop? It's slogan: "If
you break it, you pay for it or she breaks you."
Then there's the Kane Club where members must wear
Be polite to the cocktail waitresses because one of them
may have been a former tag team champion.
How about the Legion of Doom Video Room?
The "Luck of the Irish" gaming room, hosted by Ken
To entertain the folks, how about the Nation of Domination
Lounge, headlined by The Headbangers?
And not to worry about security, the man in charge is Vader.
The coupe de ville could be a grand opening in the year
2000 with Wrestlemania XVI as the first event.
And now back to the past. Tonight Show host Jay Leno is
undefeated in the ring as he debuted last Saturday at
WCW's "Road Wild."
Dressed in a "Tonight" shirt and jeans (how mundane), he
and Diamond Dallas Page upset Eric Bischoff and
Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
Leno showed he wasn't there just for the scenery because
he actually gave Bischoff a clothesline or two and applied a
wrist lock to Hogan.
The end came when Leno's band director Kevin Eubanks
illegally entered the ring and put Bischoff in the "diamond
cutter." He let Leno fall on Eric for the pin and win. Top that
Bill Goldberg was so feared as he won the "Battle Royal,"
Kevin Nash committed "match suicide" by throwing himself
over the top rope rather than face Big Bill.
HOGAN RECEIVES ULTIMATE SHOCK
(New York Daily News, Friday, August 21, 1998)
By The Slammer
My Aunt Thelma used to say a rumor is a fact that is yet to
be known. Well, let it be known that this rumor is now a fact
=97 the Ultimate Warrior is back.
For the last few years the mill has spun around with rumors
of the Warrior's return. But alas they always remained
rumors and he remained invisible.
But that all changed last Monday on WCW's "Nitro." The
painted prince of pain appeared in Hartford to the cheers of
the fans and the chagrin of Hulk Hogan.
The program began with Diamond Dallas Page telling
Hogan that he would be getting a partner for next month's
"Fall Brawl" and that this man was an adversary from
Later in the evening, as Hogan and Eric Bischoff were
chatting in the ring, flickering lights and smoke enveloped
the arena. And who should walk ringside but the Ultimate
Warrior. The fans went wild and Hogan went into shock.
The Warrior took the mike and proclaimed: "You (Hogan)
have beaten giants, legends and myths. But you have never
beaten a Warrior." Another roar came from the crowd. All
Hogan could say was, "I thought you were dead." The
Warrior went on: "I have been watching you wrestle and feel
now is time to return and start a new revolution."
Then came more smoke and then darkness. When the
lights came back on, the Warrior was gone.
This is not the first time the man has returned only to
We did some checking on his painted past and called Bill
Apter, senior editor of Pro Wrestling Illustrated Almanac. He
said the Warrior first won the Intercontinental belt at
"Summer Slam" on Aug. 29, 1988 at the Garden. He
defeated the Honky Tonk Man in about 20 seconds. Then
came his greatest moment and, in my opinion, the most
anticipated match of the decade.
It was April 1, 1990, Wrestlemania VI, in Toronto at
SkyDome for the world championship between the Warrior
and then champion Hogan. The Warrior held the
Intercontinental belt and Hogan the world title belt. Up to
this match neither man had ever faced the other (nor have
they since) and both put their belts on the line. A still-record
audience of over 67,000 was treated to one of the most
intense battles ever as the Warrior pinned the Hulkster for
Apter then said the Warrior left wrestling in 1991 and had a
brief stint with some independent organizations in August of
1993. Another retirement and once again another return.
This time he appeared at Wrestlemania XII, March 31,
1996, in Anaheim where he beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
But again soon after, the Warrior disappeared into the
So as the Warrior reappears in this month of August,
Almanac editor Apter notes: "He apparently rises with the
summer heat of August."
We all know the saying "time and tide wait for no warrior."
So will he be as dominating as before or just a ghostly
image of yesteryear?
And the bigger question: The Warrior is back, but for how
HIGHWAY TO HELL LEADS TO GARDEN
(New York Daily News, Friday, August 28, 1998)
By The Slammer
If you are not sure when summer is over, don't check the
almanac, check with the WWF. This Sunday they officially
"slam" summer down when they go to Madison Square
Garden for "Summer Slam: Highway to Hell." The highway
in no way refers to New York City roads, but some may
The main event is world champion Stone Cold Steve Austin
defending the title vs. The Undertaker. The two have
become the best of enemies. Add to it that Undertaker and
his brother, Kane, have made up and become friends. So
Kane may be "able" to help the Undertaker.
On top of that, Mankind is secretly feuding with Kane (his
tag champ partner), so he may go to the aid of his former
tag champ partner Austin. Also, Paul Bearer has been
humiliated by Sonny Boy Kane, so he might also go to the
aid of Austin.
Then we have an Intercontinental "ladder" title match
between champion Rocky Miavia and challenger Hunter
Hearst Helmsley, who will be aided (and no doubt illegally
assisted) by Chyna.
The belt will be suspended high above the ring and the first
guy to grab it wins the title.
Now last week, the New Nation, headed by Rocky,
humiliated Chyna and literally forced her to her knees. So
Hunter has the added inspiration of not only winning the
title, but winning respect for his lady fair. This could be one
of the best matches of the year.
Then we have a "Lion's Den" match between Ken Shamrock
and Owen Hart, who is now the co-leader of the New
Nation. This one is an anything-goes, no-holds-barred,
submission-only-to-win contest. It is being held at the
Theatre at the Garden. Rumors are they are digging a dirt
pit and putting a steel cage around it. This one could get
Now, although Madison Square Garden is sold out, have no
fear about tickets. The Theatre, which as previously
mentioned is staging the "Lion's Den" match, has limited
seating for this contest. Tickets can be purchased for $18 at
the Garden ticket office, Ticketmaster or charge by
phone at 307-7171.
Besides seeing the den match live, you get to watch the rest
of the Slam matches via closed-circuit giant Titan Tron,
measuring 40 by 20 feet.
Next is a mixed tag-team contest between Sable and a
mystery partner vs. her former friend, Marc Mero, and his
current friend, Ms. Jacqueline. It is still a mystery as to who
Sable will bring with her.
However, my gremlins have tried to uncover the mystery.
They say don't be too surprised if Butterbean, the mountain
of flesh who claims to be a boxer and the affection of Sable,
is at her side.
The tag champs of Mankind and Kane take on Billy Gunn
and Road Dog. But we doubt the champs will keep the belt.
Then there's a "Hair vs. Hair" match involving X-Pac and
Jeff Jarrett, and we know what happens to the loser.
SPOILS OF WAR GO TO PAGE
(New York Daily News, Friday, September 18, 1998)
By The Slammer
They played "War Games" Sunday in South Carolina and
we are happy to report there were no civilian casualties. You
see, these war games were part of the WCW "Fall Brawl."
"War Games" was the main event and was held in a double
ring and cage between three teams. Last man standing was
the winner and, as a bonus, that man now has a shot at the
world title next month.
The mayhem began immediately as NWO Team Hogan,
NWO Team Wolf Pack and Team WCW all smashed and
bashed away at each other.
The turning point was when Hollywood Hogan illegally used
a blackjack (no, not our hotline host) to smack everyone in
sight, including Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, Sting and Stevie
Ray, into la-la land.
But then the Ultimate Warrior had seen enough and chased
Hogan outside the cage. Hollywood then slammed the cage
door shut and locked it after his henchman The Disciple
KOd the referee and took his key.
But a locked cage never stopped the Warrior. He kicked
open the side of the cage and ran after Hogan as the two
disappeared into the dressing room.
Meanwhile, back at the war game, Diamond Dallas Page
found himself the only man left in the cage who was not
Page proceded to place a worn-out Stevie Ray in the
"diamond cutter" for the win and the title shot at Halloween
Havoc on Oct. 25 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
SOME BIG NAMES MEETING IN ALLEY
(New York Daily News, Friday, September 25, 1998)
By The Slammer
Well, it's time for some cauliflower talk. No, it's not about a
new recipe from my Aunts Thelma and Louise. It's time to
talk about the Cauliflower Alley Club annual banquet.
It is scheduled for Oct. 24, 2 p.m., at the Hilton Hotel in
Cherry Hill, N.J. The club will honor the NWA (National
Wrestling Alliance) as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Among those getting their day in the ring is CAC president
and former NWA multi-champ Lou Thesz.
Lou won his first NWA belt in 1937, and in a span of 18
years won five more. His total of six title belts ties him with
Ric Flair for the second most NWA titles. And who has
more? Good of you to ask. It is the man who also will be
honored that day.
And that honoree is Harley Race. Harley held the title seven
times during his illustrious career.
Another honoree is the "voice" of the NWA, Gordon Solie,
and what would an event like this be without the classy
The younger generation will be there with the outstanding
NWA junior champion Danny Hodge, Dory Funk Jr. and
some future stars from the WWF training facility in
Guests include "Mr. NWA" Jim Cornette, former NWA
champion Barry Windham, Al Snow and Abdullah the
After the fun and food, there will be live matches (also at the
Hilton) as part of the festivities.
For something more current, this Sunday the WWF is going
"In Your House." The main event is a "Triple Threat" title
match between the champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, the
Undertaker and his brother Kane.
BELT ELUDES KANE, UNDERTAKER
(New York Daily News, Friday, October 2, 1998)
By The Slammer
The WWF had a "breakdown" last Sunday, and it had
nothing to do with its motorcade.
This "Breakdown" occurred in the WWF's pay-per-view
event, "In Your House."
The main match was a triple-threat title bout between
champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and challengers The
Undertaker and Kane.
It was obvious from the start that Austin was in double
trouble. The only thing that saved him early was when the
Undertaker had a chance to pin Steve, Kane pulled him off.
And when Kane tried to pin Austin, the Undertaker did the
same.The Undertaker shows his softer side. But while the
Undertaker and Kane displayed disunity, they were united
in defeating Stone Cold.
It happened when the Undertaker and Kane applied the
"choke slam" to Austin. As Stone Cold was rammed to the
canvas, the Undertaker and Kane simultaneously fell on
Austin. So as the referee counted Austin out, we knew the
loser, but who was the winner and champion?
An immediate response came from Vince McMahon. He
quickly jumped into the ring and just as quickly jumped out,
running to a waiting limousine with the title belt in hand.
In hot pursuit was Austin. Commish Sgt. Slaughter, Gerald
Brisco and Pat Paterson tried to stop Austin.
As he approached McMahon's vehicle, Vince shouted from
the window: "It's my belt now!" and gave Steve the two-
handed, single-finger "I'm No. 1" sign. Get my drift? The car
sped into the night.
So the following night on "Raw," McMahon placed the new
championship belt (Austin had personalized the old one by
putting a skull on the buckle) in a case. He then announced
that Oct. 18 on the next "In Your House," Kane and the
Undertaker would fight for the world championship. And he
then added that Stone Cold Steve Austin would be special
Now for some reason, this did not sit well with both men,
and the Undertaker whacked Vince's knee with the ring's
steel steps, leaving Vince in much pain.
Back to last Sunday. The next contest was a "triple threat"
cage match between Rocky Miavia, Ken Shamrock and
Mankind. The winner was to get a title shot at the champ.
But since we don't know who the champ is at the moment,
the match was to determine the No. 1 contender.
The rules for this one were that you had to pin, make the
other guy submit or leave the cage to win.
At the critical point (usually near the end), Mankind had
carefully placed a steel chair across Shamrock's head,
leaving him unconscious. Rocky at this time was also semi-
conscious due to repeated blows about his head and body
from the other two gentlemen. Now Mankind made a
Rather than pin either men, Mankind chose to leave the
cage. Considering that he is about as quick as a turtle, this
was not a wise decision.
As Mankind lumbered up the side of the cage, Rocky
regained strength to go over and pin Shamrock for the win.
Last week the phone number for ordering Cauliflower Club
banquet tickets was accidentally omitted. For more
information, call: 689-2830, ext. 242, or (718) 745-7334.
WCW GETS READY FOR WAR GAMES
(New York Daily News, Friday, September 11, 1998)
By The Slammer
War games are scheduled for Sunday in Winston-Salem,
N.C. Now there's no need to call any relatives and friends
there and tell them to evacuate the town. These war games
are not being held by any government agency. These war
games are being held by the WCW. And as far as we know,
that is not a government agency. But hey, you never know.
The War Games is the main part of the pay-per-view event
called "Fall Brawl." It features nine men and three groups of
It's being held in two adjoining rings enclosed in a cage. Not
the best place to hold a meeting, but these are war games.
The first team is the NWO "Wolf Pack" comprised (the word
of the week) of Kevin Nash, Lex Luger and Sting. Then we
have the NWO "Hollywood" group led by, of course,
Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Bret Hitman Hart and Stevie Ray,
who is subbing for the injured Scott Hall. And the third
squad is Team WCW, with Diamond Dallas Page, Rowdy
Roddy Piper and The Ultimate Warrior.
The rules have been changed from previous war games. In
the past, the winner was the team that made the other
teams say "I quit." This year the winner is the last man
standing, and he will get a shot at world champion Bill
Goldberg at next month's "Halloween Havoc" in the city of
glitter and slot machines, Las Vegas.
This new configuration (second word of the week) of rules
makes being a team player a disadvantage. Since the
winner gets a solo shot at the title, individuality takes
precedence over teamwork.
This marks the Ultimate Warrior's first active participation in
the WCW. There is no doubt in my mind (what's left of it)
that the Warrior will want a shot at Hogan instead of
Goldberg. And vice versa, since Hogan has never defeated
the Warrior. So look for these two to wage war
against each other.
The favorite to be the last man standing is Diamond Dallas
Page, and second choice is Kevin Nash. We shall see who
is left standing.
Next it's brother vs. brother. Rick Steiner will finally get to
meet brother Scott in the ring. Rick has been looking to get
major revenge for his brother's betrayal a few months back
when Scott turned against Rick in a tag match. The two are
now bitter enemies and this should be one of the best
matches of the year.
Two titles will be on the line. First, champ Chris Jericho
faces Konnan, and the cruiserweight champion Juventa
Guerrera tangles with Hayashi. Also there's a "Control of the
Flock" contest between present leader Raven and Saturn.
Look for the Raven to orbit Saturn.
VINCE NOT SAFE, EVEN IN HOSPITAL
(New York Daily News, Friday, October 9, 1998)
By The Slammer
The WWF is beginning to resemble the NFL. Meaning this
week we will give you the WWF injury update, starting with
its leader, Vince McMahon.
Vince has been in a hospital since The Undertaker and Kane
jumped him the previous week on "Raw." Vince was
announcing that the championship match for the next "In
Your House" on Oct. 18 would be between Kane and
the Undertaker. Upon hearing the news, the Undertaker
whacked McMahon's knees with the steel steps, causing
trauma serious enough for hospitalization.
So last Monday Vince wanted to let people know how he
was doing. "Raw" had a live feed from McMahon's bedside,
and who should pay Vince a surprise visit? None other than
Dr. Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Austin, disguised as a doctor, entered McMahon's room as
Vince was about to speak, and attacked him. He was
pounding away all over poor, bed-ridden McMahon. The
cameras caught some of the violence, but not all of it.
Seems Austin gave Vince and the camera a thrashing,
knocking it from the holder's hand.
Rumors are that McMahon now must employ a bodyguard.
STONE COLD & MAC CEMENT FRIENDSHIP
(New York Daily News, Friday, October 16, 1998)
By The Slammer
The WWF is coming "In Your House" Sunday. It's called
"Judgment Day," but there is no need for you to have a
minister present. Unless, of course, he or she wants to
watch the event.
The main match is for the world championship as brother
faces brother. It's Kane vs. the Undertaker, with Stone Cold
Steve Austin as the special referee. Vince McMahon has
made an unusual stipulation to this one =97 Austin must raise
the hand of the victor or he immediately will be cashiered
(fired) from the WWF.
This rule stems from the latest chapter in the ongoing
relationship between McMahon and Austin.
Last Monday on "Raw," McMahon made an appearance at
Nassau Coliseum after his discharge from a hospital. He
parked his mint 1985 Corvette in the lot and was greeting
the incoming wrestlers. Who should show up in a cement
truck but Stone Cold Stevie.
Austin maneuvered the truck next to the car and proceeded
to "cement" his frienship with Vince by pouring the entire
contents of the truck into and all over the vehicle.
He then left the truck (which was illegally parked, by the
way) and entered the arena as a stunned McMahon stood in
That incident no doubt led to McMahon's pronouncement
that Austin had better do a proper job as ref or he will be
"cemented" out of the WWF. The car is presently up for
There are three other title matches on Sunday.
Ken Shamrock will make his first Intercontinental title
defense vs. Mankind. Ken won the vacated title after
commish Sgt. Slaughter ruled champ Hunter Hearst
Helmsley could not defend the belt in the required
30-day time limit due to a knee injury.
Anyway, last Monday Shamrock rocked X Pac to win the
Intercontinental title tournament and the belt.
Also being contested is the tag title, with champs Billy Gunn
and Road Dog facing the Headbangers. Look for the
Headbangers to get their heads handed to them.
The European champion D. Lo Brown defends his belt vs. X
Pac. With the weight advantage, Brown should X-out Pac,
Goldust returns to the ring and faces Val Venus, the man
who stole his wife. Terry (aka Marlena) will try to be there to
root for the winner. Mark Henry of the Nation faces former
Nation member Rocky Maivia. The Rock had better be
careful in this match. He is the No. 1 challenger for
the world title and does not want to risk an injury to the
massive man Mark. The Rock is looking to get that title shot
by next month, possibly at the "Survivor Series" event.
The WAWLI Papers #295...
GEORGE BOLLAS TURNS MAT PRO
(Columbus, Ohio, Citizen, January 26, 1947)
George Bollas, Ohio State's heavyweight wrestling champion
of the Big Nine, has turned professional. The 345-pounder,
after considerable deliberation, has decided to foresake the
college field for the more lucrative pay-as-you-go
He has been signed by Promoter Al Haft to make his first
appearance in the opening event on this week's wrestling
program, which will be held at Memorial Hall on Friday night,
instead of the usual Wednesday night.
he runs into a tartar in his first match, meeting the burly Fred
Carone, of New York City, in a one-fall, 30-minute affair that
will start the program off at 8:30.
The feature attraction on the card will see Johnny Demchuk,
deposed last week as junior heavy champion, starting a
comeback drive. Demchuk has signed to meet Buck
Davidson, the wily Klamath Falls, Ore., star, in a one-fall, 60-
(ED. NOTE--George Bollas won his pro debut when Carone
somehow managed to hoist the huge wrestler into a partial
airplane spin, only to crumple under the weight and be
pinned in six minutes, 25 seconds. A local newspaper
account noted: "Bollas appeared to be adequate as a
wrestler but could use a graduate course in dramatics before
he can compete with such experienced actors as Ali Pasha,
The Great Kirilenko, and that master of them all, Gorgeous
PRIMO CARNERA IS MAT VICTOR
(Youngstown Times, Tuesday, April 22, 1947)
Primo Carnera, former world's heavyweight boxing
champion, scored a victory over "Sandy" O'Donnell, St.
Louis 242-pounder, in a wrestling exhibition at the
Youngstown Arena last night. The show drew 1,830 fans for
a gross gate of $2,862 and net $2,405.
Carnera, weighing 288 pounds, won the first fall in 16
minutes when O'Donnell was disqualified. He took the
second with a back body drop in seven minutes.
George Bollas, Warren 335-pounder, tossed Lou Samick,
Cleveland, 240, with a reverse body drop in seven minutes.
Fred Bozik, 208, Cleveland, tossed Buddy Curtis, 220,
Cleveland, in 26 minutes with a leg lock.
Ed Meske, 222, Akron, and Bobby Bruns, 228, Chicago,
drew, 30 minutes.
(ED. NOTE--Sandy O'Donnell was far better and widely
known as Ray Eckert.)
OLE OLSON DRAWS RASSLE ROWDY
(Rochester, N.Y., Democrat & Chronicle, Nov. 11, 1947)
Ole Olson, who since he began his "reform" campaign, has
run into rassle rowdies almost exclusively in his mat
campaigning, has another session booked with a member of
the villainous fraternity tomorrow night at the Edgerton Park
Olson is bracketed for a 30-minute supporting fracas on the
Primo Carnera-Frank Exton card with Angelo Cistoldi, the
Pittsburgher who learned his rowdy rassle antics in Hell's
In the 20-minute curtain raiser the 1947 National AAU
wrestling champion will make his second professional start
and first in a Rochester ring. He is 300-pound George Bolos
(sic) of Warren, Ohio, and his local debut will show him
against another recent graduate of the amateur ranks, 250-
pound Frank Steele of Buffalo.
In addition to the best-of-three falls Sexton-Carnera tussle,
the card also will include a half-hour semifinal which pits
Dave Levin, clever former champion from Brooklyn, against
Karol Krauser, the flashy "Polish Apollo."
GEORGE BOLLAS NEW GREEK MATMAN ON SCENE
(Sports Pictorial Review, New York City, Dec. 8, 1947)
By Gene Held
Speed, speed and more speed seems to be the dictate of
this day and age. Primo Carnera and the Swedish Angel had
hardly left our town when another potentially great wrestler
appeared on the scene in George Bollas, a young Greek
heavyweight, who is hailed as successor to Jim Londos in
color, personality and ability.
Bollas is a Greek with a college education. Born in Ohio from
Greek parents, he attended Ohio State University, joining the
college mat team as a matter of course. From there on,
Bollas, the wrestler, had easy sailing. Weighing some 300
pounds, George became a college wrestling sensation,
practically over night. His ruggedness and great strength
made him unbeatable and he cleaned up on all collegiate
opponents in short order. When Bollas finally succumbed to
tempting offers by promoters Al Haft, Columbus, Ohio, and
Tom Packs of St. Louis, he had won every college mat title
in sight, including the Big Ten heavyweight championship
and the National Collegiate Amateur laurels.
All this happened a little less than two years ago. Since then
he has found the "grapple-for-pay" much to his liking. Bollas
and his 300 pounds of brawn command healthy respect,
especially since he is able to back up his great strength with
the same colorful wrestling technique that made Greek
wrestlers of another generation world-famous.
Bollas is a born heavyweight wrestler. He is short and
stocky, very powerful and unusually speedy for a man of his
weight. Bollas weighed 330 pounds last winter. He is down
to 300 now and weighs five pounds less after a hard
workout. Such great weight is rather unusual for a Greek
wrestler. Reviewing some of the big-time Greek wrestlers
before Bollas, neither Londos nor Bill Demetral, Harry
Mammas or any of the others approached Bollas in weight.
Ever since George joined the pros, he has been taking the
country by storm, piling up victory upon victory, displaying at
the same time a strength that got him the nickname of
"Greek Hercules." Bollas' every move suggests bearlike
power, plus precision. Strong legs, broad shoulders, a deep
chest and a powerful neck makes him a picture of strength
worthy to behold.
Bollas' great display of might is bound to make a hit with
New York fans in short order. Scrutinizing Bollas and his
style of wrestling, onlookers are very much reminded of
"Strangler" Lewis. When Lewis clamped down a hold, well
brother, that was that! It is much the same with Bollas. He
too can turn on power that permits no escape. At the same
time, it is almost impossible to inflict serious punishment on
Bollas, since his stockiness and his great weight make him
hard to handle. Certainly, nobody is going to take any
extended liberties with Bollas, be his name Frank Sexton,
Primo Carnera, et al.
During the two years that Bollas has been wrestling
professionally, his progress as a wrestler was such that his
former college coach "Spike" Mooney marveled at the
change that has come over the young Greek. Already strong
and a marvelous wrestler since his early college days, he
now possesses an uncanny knack for sizing up a foe's
weakness. Once he senses an opening, he'll blast it time
and again until his victim is ready for the kill. Such slam-
bang wrestling methods make Bollas a good man to watch.
Fans usually appreciate the Greek almost immediately.
Bollas comes to New York highly recommended by
midwestern promoters who consider the new Greek
Hercules as one of the coming matmen of the era. It seems
that Greeks simply won't be denied when the saga of great
wrestlers is told, be it ancient or modern. Turning back to
ages long gone, wrestling in Greece 2000 years ago was
held in high esteem by king and peasant alike. As a matter
of fact, it was under the influence of Greek civilization that
wrestling received its most elaborate early advancement.
All thru the years, the story has been the same. Greeks
continued to play important roles when wrestling history was
in the making. It isn't surprising that Bollas, like many other
Greeks, has a soft spot for that Greek Adonis of yesteryear,
Theophelo Theophelus, better known as Jim Londos. Jimmy
was a good wrestler when he had it and George would like
nothing better than to follow in his footsteps. To forestall all
questions as to Londos' present status, let it be said that he
has retired to a life of ease and raising avocados.
While Londos was easily the greatest of all Greek wrestlers
ever to show in this country, there were others like Bill
Demetral, John Melas, Chris Pappas, Harry Mammas,
Demitro Tafolos, etc., who made the Greeks highly
respected mat men. Nevertheless, none of them -- and that
goes for Londos, too -- came even close to Bollas in sheer
strength. In making that statement, we remember well that
Londos started out as a strong man in a vaudeville act before
he took up wrestling professionally. Wrestling is no sport for
weaklings and Londos was none of that. But that man
Bollas! He is a second Sebastian Miller, who broke
cobblestones with his bare fists and no fooling.
The Greek Hercules came to New York in search of matches
with outstanding mat men, like Carnera, The Angel, Frank
Sexton, Don Lee and others of similar, high caliber.
Unfortunately, Carnera and the Angel were called away from
New York, but there still is a multitude of good and tried men
around. That much is sure: local promoters are going to pay
close attention to Bollas' New York mat debut. The reasons
are obvious, since good wrestlers of more than average
ability are always welcome, especially if they please such
fine mat fans as make up the Greek wrestling clientele.
Bollas is probably the first Greek collegiate to become a
professional wrestler. His decision to join the pay-as-you-go
wrestlers was undoubtedly influenced by Londos and his
great success as a wrestler. The former Greek Adonis made
a fortune in wrestling and no Greek is going to forget that for
a long time to come.
Bollas likes to spend his off days in his native Warren, Ohio,
wreslting with books whenever he isn't engaged in actual
mat combat. In conversation he impresses with a keen mind
and occasionally he'll surprise you with a real sense of
humor. While wrestling is Bollas' great love in sports, he is
also fond of football to some extent, having played on Ohio
State's junior varsity in 1944.
The fact that Bollas went first to college before he joined the
pro ranks in wrestling reminds us of other grapplers with
college educations, men like Jim McMillen, Joe Savoldi, Gus
Sonnenberg and Dr. Roller, who proved that an education is
never wasted by cleaning up in the mat game.
When Bollas first approached local promoters, he expressed
his willigness to sign a blank contract, leaving the choice of
opponents and terms entirely to the promoters.
"I'll wrestle anybody," said Bollas, "in fact, I'll wrestle
men the same night if need be."
Great as is Bollas' anxiety to make good in New York, he
won't have to go to such extremes. He'll get his chance and
soon, too. There are so many Greeks among local mat
followers that another Greek star might become the apple of
their eye. All Bollas has to do is to live up to his great
advance publicity and he'll be a very busy man for quite
ZEBRA KID UNMASKED BY ROGERS IN MATCH
(Columbus, Ohio, Star, August 10, 1957)
By Armand Romano
If some disgruntled hombre were to rip the mask off the Lone
Ranger, Tonto wouldn't be nearly as surprised at his White
Brother's identity as the capacity Haft's Acre crowd was last
Thursday night (August 1, 1957) after the unveiling of the
For when the crowd-baiting Kid stood bare-faced before the
jeering spectators, he suddenly bore a remarkable
resemblance to George Bollas, former Ohio State AAU and
Big Ten heavyweight champ -- a man whose prowess on the
mat and whose sportsmanship were legendary a few years
As soon as the identity had been verified by the throng, the
gruff insults and threats subsided and were replaced by a
moment of apologetic and embarrassed silence; then there
followed a tumultuous applause in the course of which the
crowd purified itself of the hostility it has shown toward the
Zebra Kid for the past nine years.
Buddy (Nature Boy) Rogers emceed the unmasking after the
blonde giant had stopped the Kid at 15:30 of their one-fall
fracas. It had previously been decieed that if Rogers won the
match, he would be given the privilege of unmasking the
lithe Zebra, and if Rogers lost, the Zebra would be handed
the honor of cutting off Rogers' long, blonde hair.
The dual personality of the crowd was best defined by a boy
who appeared to be about 10 years old. In previous Zebra
bouts, he had been observed shouting his anger and threats
of mayhem in the Kid's direction. But after the idenity was
revealed last Thursday night, the young boy was spotted on
the street flexing his muscles and proudly exclaiming:
"I'm George Bollas, and I'm from Ohio State!"
For nine years Bollas, wearing a zebra skin hood which fell
to his shoulders, had coaxed venom from the spectators.
Numerous incidents and riots punctuated this long span,
including the electrificying attack made upon him following a
bout at Haft's Acre last June 13. As he left the arena, a
jeering mob closed in on him and stoned him. One man
even bared a knife.
Badly beaten, Bollas sought the sanctuary of a taxicab and
he was rushed to White Cross Hospital. The next day his
faced looked like a rare beef barbecue and there were
wounds left on his mind, too.
"Mob rule is a terrible thing," he says now, "because it is
based purely on emotion. A maddened crowd acts with blind
rage, throwing reason to the winds."
But George Bollas' career has been studded with happy
moments, too. He was champion of the unlimited
heavyweight class in the Big Ten in 1945 and 1946, and
received collegiate wrestling's greatest honor in 1945 --
heavyweight championship of the NCAA. Also in 1945, he
was runnerup to Richard Vaughan in the AAU heavyweight
Ranging in weight from 398 pounds in his college days to
250 today, Bollas has thrilled wrestling crowds throughout
the United Sttes, Canada, Mexico, Hawaiian Islands, Japan,
Australia and New Zealand. He was heavyweight champ of
the Hawaiian Islands for two years.
Bollas and his wife, Katherine, live in a large trailer in the
near southwestern section of Columbus. Katherine, or "Kay"
as she prefers to be called, is quite naturally her husband's
greatest fan, and she dedicates her time to maintaining a
home where he can relax and enjoy peace of mind.
George and Kay pursue a mutual hobby -- making shellcraft
jewelry and decorated handbags. Hours of painstaking detail
go into every item they create, and the end results clearly
show the beauty of the couple's handicraft. They learned this
art in the Hawaiian Islands.
They fell in love with Hawaii during their two years there, and
they hope some day to return and live in the Islands.
Mementos of Hawaii are visible throughout their trailer, and
they maintain a sun-deck on top of the trailer which they
affectionately call "Waikiki Beach."
The sun-deck is equipped with all the tools needed for the
pursuit of their shellcraft enterprise, as well as an intercom
system for sundeck-to-inside communications.
Kay, who had never attended a wrestling match until she
married George, remembers more of her husband's history
than he remembers himself. She recalls, for example, a
remark made by Bronko Nagurski, the football great, when
Bollas had beaten Nagurski in a match in Minneapolis.
"I expected him to be slow because he's so big," Nagurski
had said. "I never seen a man of his size move so fast."
Kay is a native Oklahoman and attended the University of
Oklahoma. A Chilly atmosphere sometimes prevails in the
trailer when the national football ratings of Oklahoma and
Ohio State are compared.
George Bollas is continuing his wrestling career as strongly
as ever now. The masquerade is over for the Zebra Kid, but
from the narrow cocoon which held him there has emerged a
new performer to flutter about the bright ring -- big-muscled,
big-hearted George Bollas.
HAFT ACRE ARENA, Thursday, Aug. 8, 1957, Columbus
For the OHIO HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Paul DeGalles, Ohio heavyweight champion, versus Golden
Rocket Billy Darnell
Ed Francis versus Bearcat Wright
Chris Averoff vs. Mike McGee
Added Attraction--Boxing exhibition, Johnny Palmer vs.
General Admission: 90 cents; Kids a Dime
NOEL HOLMES' SPORTS TALK
(The Auckland Star, New Zealand, Monday, Apr. 28, 1958)
"You could sum it up," said George Bollas sadly, "by saying
I'm a schizophrenic."
I goggled respectfully. "Split personality," explained George. I
murmured my thanks.
"Who," demanded George, "is George Bollas?" I started to
say George was an American wrestler who was proposing to
tramp around the New Zealand circuit. But I was flagged
"Sure," said George impatiently. "Bollas used to wrestle a
little. He was Ohio State champion and won the
intercollegiate one year. Amateur stuff.
"But these days George Bollas is just a guy who lives with
his wife in Columbus.
"He doesn't smoke or drink and he goes to church every
"He's been a member of the Y.M.C.A. for 22 years and his
hobbies are making costume jewelry and breeding Pekinese.
"Pekinese! What sort of a dog is that for a wrestler?
"Now, talking of wrestlers," continued George impressively,
"you should see the Zebra Kid.
"The Zebra Kid wrestles in a striped mask. He promises he'll
publicly unmask if anyone can beat him in straight falls.
"He's had the mask off only once in seven years -- and he's
met guys like Thesz, Sexton and Hutton, who is now world
"He's caused riots. He's stopped traffic. He's terrific."
George Bollas said plaintively: "It's taken me seven long
years to build up the Zebra Kid. And now look what's
What's happened is that the Zebra Kid has arrived in
Auckland, complete with striped robe and mask, only to find
he's not wanted.
The Auckland Wrestling Association is uneasy about masks.
It has a feeling that striped robes are undignified.
So it has billed the Zebra Kid as plain George Bollas.
The Zebra Kid is alarmed and dismayed.
"Heck, I don't know if I can wrestle as George Bollas," he
said. "Old George hasn't wrestled for years.
"I'm gonna take the Zebra gear along anyhow. Maybe they'll
change their minds."
So if you just should see a wrestler cavorting around in a
striped mask tonight don't be surprised.
And don't let on I told you he's really George Bollas. It's a
The WAWLI Papers #296...
SPECIAL PLEA FORWARDED BY PENNY BANNER
Special Events' LadySports Magazine heard of the recent
cardiac arrest of Joyce Grable's husband, Richard. Richard
is recovering slowly, but the medical bills are enormous, as
you might imagine. Many fans, wrestlers and other
organizations are making contributions to Joyce and her
family to help out with their bills. We are asking that you
help if you can. Even a card to Joyce and Richard will let
them know you are thinking about them.
Miraculously, Richard is making progress, but will, in all
likelihood, never be able to return to work. At 37 years of
age, and three teenagers at home, this has been devastating
to all of them. Richard was not able to undergo heart
surgery due to a diabetic condition. Doctors have inserted a
defibrillator to assist if his heart stops again. Reports have
shown that damage to his heart is approximately 75%. So, I
hope you can see the seriousness of this situation.
Joyce Grable was one of the top stars of female wrestling of
the 1970's & 80s and appeared frequently on TV here in the
US. She traveled all over the world competing and was
always a fan favorite, and was one of the most popular
American women to appear in Japan.
After one of the most illustrious careers in the sport, Joyce
retired from the ring in 1991 following back surgery, and has
since raised her family, worked, and been part of the
community in Lagrange, GA. Send whatever contribution
you can directly to her family. Let her know you are thinking
about her and Richard's continued recovery.
Send contributions and well-wishes to JOYCE GRABLE
FAMILY - 5012 OLD WEST POINT ROAD - LAGRANGE,
GA 30240. Checks/money orders can be made to Joyce
Joyce wishes to thank all her friends...the fans...for the
tremendous support and prayers they have given.
The December Issue of LadySports will have a feature on
Joyce's career highlights.
BROWNING'S AIRPLANE SCISSORS DOWNS LUTZE
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, May 18, 1933)
Jim Browning, a prominent member in that great fraternity --
"The Rasslin' Champions of the World" -- tossed Nick Lutze,
the former Venice life guard, two out of three falls last night
in the main event at the Olympic Auditorium. On both
occasions the recognized kingpin in the environs of New
York City and Hoboken resorted to an airplane turnover
scissors to perform the feat.
After each had won a fall Browning crushed Lutze in 12m.
33s. to send the paying public home to their children.
Lutze captured the second fall with an overhead backward
body slam in 18m. 32s. Browning applied one of those
punishing airplane turnover scissors in an effort to cut Nick in
half, but the latter broke the vise-like grip and flopped over
backwards on his opponent to give the referee a chance to
pat him for his good work.
In the heralded semi-wind-up, Ad Santel and Oki Shikina
grappled to a twenty-minute draw jiu-jitsu style. Oki did his
best to apply his famous "Oki Choki" hold but Mr. Santel was
not in a receptive mood.
Tiny Roebuck disposed of Ray Jarecki in just one minute
with a well-aimed body slam. In the opener Glenn Wade
stowed Tex Wright away in 3m. 51s., with that old favorite, a
pile driver drop. Mr. Wade piled and Mr. Wright dropped.
(ED. NOTE--Sleepy old editor goofs again!! Let the the first
paragraph of this one get mixed up in WAWLI 291 when it
was intended, all along, for prime space here in WAWLI
295. That's what they mean about being Sleepless in
Seattle, I guess.)
MR. LEWIS FALLS PREY TO SAVOLDI
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, May 23, 1933)
NEW YORK, May 22 (AP) -- Jumping Joe Savoldi, the
illustrious ex-footballer, advanced another step toward the
wrestling heights tonight with a field goal victory over old Ed
(Strangler) Lewis at Madison Square Garden.
About 5,000 fans saw the former Notre Dame line plunger
down his broad opponent after 43 minutes and 7 seconds of
tugging and hauling. The result was the reverse of their first
meeting a week ago tonight, when Savoldi dived through the
ropes onto the hard concrete floor and lost interest in the
Although he weighed only 202 pounds to around 240 for the
mature Strangler, Jumping Joe was fairly well in control of
the situation at all times. He had Lewis grimacing a half
dozen times with toe holds before the end came.
The finish was sudden, coming just after Savoldi had been
taking quite a drubbing from Lewis' notorious headlock.
Jumping up after he had been slammed to the mat, Savoldi
caught the slow-footed Strangler squarely amidships with a
Down went Lewis, moaning. He arose only to encounter
Savoldi's body in full flight, and this time the veteran hit so
hard he bounced. It was a simple matter for the agile Joe to
pounce on Lewis and hold him there.
The triumph put Savoldi in direct line for a match with Jim
Browning, recognized as champion by the New York State
Athletic Commission. It also returned to Joe the title claim
he won by his recent sensational victory over Jim Londos at
Chicago. Lewis, a veteran of more than 4,000 matches, was
left without a single title claim to his credit.
BOARD RULES GRAPPLERS MUST WRESTLE
(Los Angeles Times, July 9, 1933)
DEL MONTE, July 8 (AP) -- From now on, wrestling in this
state is going to be "refined."
The California Boxing Commission adopted rules today
forbidding wrestlers from kicking, biting, spitting in each
other's face, tossing one another out of the ring, tripping the
referee or wrestling in the aisles. Nothing allowed any more
but just to wrestle!
Penalties for violation of the new rules include indefinite
suspension of both wrestlers and promoters and forfeiture of
Ted Cox, wrestler, drew a ninety-day suspension at the
meeting and a $50 fine for biting Abie Kaplan and Gus
Sonnenberg in recent matches in Stockton.
The commission also did the following: Granted a referee
license to William Ellis, Santa Maria; forbade promoters to
wrestle in the ring; ruled that wrestlers may not compete
more than three times a week, or meet the same opponent
more than four times a year except for a rematch at the
JIM BROWNING OUT TO WRECK GUS SONNENBERG
(Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, July 11, 1933)
When Jim Browning arrived here from the East a few days
ago to complete training work for his three-fall title match
with "Dynamite" Gus Sonnenberg at the Olympic tomorrow
night, he was warned by close friends to keep pout of the
way of the former champion's low billy-goat butts as the
referee had never called a foul on the chunky 200-pounder
for their use.
Browning sent word to Sonnenberg, it was reported,
informing the former mat king that the latter could expect to
have his teeth kncoked out the first time he tried to butt his
way to victory. The Missouri giant stated he intends to bring
one of his knees into Sonnenberg's face the second he sees
Sonnenberg charging him head first.
The same day it was announced that the rules against
butting would be strictly enforced, whether the violator was
Sonnenberg or Sammy Stein, that spectacular 210-pound
Jewish flash who faces Ed (Strangler) Lewis, six times
former world's champion, in the other three-fall go.
After yesterday's workouts, Sonnenberg's finla and most
impressive of the past week, the challenger announced he
would beat both -- the foul penalty for butting and Browning's
threat to knock his teeth out. Instead of aiming for
Browning's stomach with his flying tackles in this battle,
Sonnenberg intends to level at the champion's kidneys. To
do this, Sonnenberg explained, he will hit Browning either
from one side, or from the back. Either way, the blow to the
kidneys or the small of the back is more devastating than the
tackles to the stomach.
Those close to Sonnenberg here say the former champion is
confident he will win the title, and to win "Billy-goat" Gus will
feint with threats of tackling, just enough roughing to make
Browning lower his guard to retaliate, then get behind the
mat kind for the blow to the kidneys.
George Hagen, the marine, will mix with Charley Santen of
Missouri in the semi; Vic Christy will face Tor Johnson in the
special, while George Wilson and Louie Bacigalupi meet in
JIM BROWNING TROUNCES GUS SONNENBERG
(Los Angeles Times, Thursday, July 13, 1933)
Surprising practically nobody, Jim Browning defeated Gus
Sonnenberg in the feature wrestling match at the Olympic
last night. Gus won the first fall but Browning rallied to take
the next two in great style.
Sonnenberg rushed out of his corner in his customary goat
manner, but faster than Jim expected, catching the
champion in the pit of the stomach with a terrific butt.
Woozy and wobbly, Browning was an easy first-fall victim,
Gus copping the nod in 32 seconds flat.
The boys got down to the serious business of contortioning
as "she is did" after the intermission, with Browning showing
all kinds of class to put Sonnenberg on the defensive. Jim
three times was about to even up the match, with Gus
wiggling over to the ropes to save himself. Tiring of this
pastime, Jim finally pulled Gus away from the hemp to
thump him down with his famous aeroplane turnover
scissors in 24m. 48s.
Gus looked ferocious and tore after Browning after the
second fall, but was met by beautiful uppercuts each time he
crowded Jim. The champion had all the better of the going
and won the third and deciding fall in 5m. 37s., also with an
In the semi-wind-up, Ed (Strangler) Lewis, the old maestro,
was unexpectedly thrown for a third and deciding fall by
debonair Sammy Stein in a bout that was packed with thrills.
Lewis drew first blood by pinning the young Jewish
sensation to the mat in 16m. 20s., after a series of his
unpopular headlocks, but Stein came back with a furious
attack to even the score in 4m. 33s. with a flying tackle and
With the going fast and rough, but with Lewis apparently
having the upper hand, Stein again waged a fierce fight to
pin the former heavyweight champ's shoulders to the canvas
in 5m. 13s. with another series of flying tackles coupled with
a cross body-lock.
George Hagen, former marine titleholder, wrestled to a thirty-
minute draw with Charley Santen. The bout was fast and
interesting, probably due to the fact that the boys attened
strictly to business and wrestled according to the finer points
of the mat game.
Vic Christy, former "boy wonder," subdued 280-pound Tor
Johnson in 9m. 37s. with an arm and leg scissors, after
bieng dizzily swung about in the air by Johnson, who was
attempting an airplane hold of gigantic proportions. Christy
hung on until arm-weary Johnson got discouraged, then
slapped on his winning scissors hold.
In the curtain-raiser, George Wilson, former brilliant grid star
at the University of Washington, and Louie Bacigalupi went
to another interesting draw in a fifteen-minute time-limit bout.
JIM BROWNING TOSSES CHARLEY SANTEN
(Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1933)
By Bill Potts
With much the same ease and motion one would use in
winding an alarm clock, Jim Browning last night applied his
famous turnover scissors to the well-padded grill of Charley
Santen and rendered that chunky young man hors de
combat in two speedy falls.
Browning took the first fall in 19m. 17s. and came backer
after the five-minute rest period to capture the second in 9m.
57s. , both with turnover scissors holds.
Santen started his own downfall when he introduced
Browning to his famous airplane spin. Charley spun New
York's recognized heavyweight champion viciously over his
head, but lost his sense of direction and wound up in a
corner of the ring with Browning on top. Jim slapped him
playfully a few times and then pinned his shoulders with the
Browning made short work of the second fall. After tossing
Santen halfway across the ring and into the press row, he
further aggravated Charley's midsection with his crushing
legs and was declared the victor with Santen gasping and
choking for breath.
Sammy Stein and George Hagen stole the show in the semi-
wind-up. Hagen, who looks like Harpo Marx with a broken
nose, only worse, was rendered unconscious after a series of
flying tackles and a body slam in 20m. 39s.
Stein attempted to connect with a flying tackle early in the
bout, but ran into Hagen's elbow and broke off a couple of
teeth. He spit chinaware all over the ring before he again
tried a flying tackle. It was a vicious thrust and caught Hagen
square in the middle. He climbed to his feet only to be
crashed to the mat again and again until he was
helpless.Stein then lifted him high over head and dropped on
his prostrate rival to win the only fall. Hagen needed plenty of
help to get him out of the ring.
Ed (Strangler) Lewis, bowing as majestically as ever, despite
a huge paunch, endured Louie Bacigalupi's insolence for
7m. 31s. and then dumped him hard and fast with a
combination headlock and body slams.
Vic Christy downed Dale Raines and Steve Strelich drew
with Tex Wright in other matches.
GUINESS LOOKS FOR McGUIRE TWIN INFO
Subj: The McCrary Twins
Date: 98-10-16 18:51:06 EDT
I'm a producer on the FOX television series GUINNESS
WORLD RECORDS: PRIMETIME. (Tuesday nights at 9
PM.) We are currently preparing a story on Billy and Benny
McCrary, holders of the Guinness Record for the world's
largest twins and pro wrestlers in their own right. We are
hoping someone can help us track down footage and
photographs of the twins in action.
I've been in touch with Benny McCrary, and he told me that
he and his (now deceased) brother wrestled for 14 years
under the McCrary name in most of the world, except Japan,
where they were known as the McGuire Twins. Benny tells
me his promoter was a man named Nick Gulless (he's not
sure of the spelling) from Nashville, TN, and that they
wrestled under the NWA banner in the US (and the New
Japan Pro Wrestling banner in Japan). This would have
been in the late 1960s and all through the 1970s.
If anyone has any leads on where we might be able to find
footage or photos of the brothers, I'd appreciate a heads-up.
Benny has some in his own collection, but it's not enough for
You can e-mail me back, or call me at the Guinness offices
in Los Angeles, CA. My office number is 818/380-8076.
Thank you in advance for your time.
Guinness World Records: Primetime
IT'S RIC FLAIR DAY IN MINNESOTA
(Charleston Post & Courier, March 1, 1998)
By Mike Mooneyham
Thirteen-time world heavyweight champion Ric Flair once
again proved he is the grand ambassador of professional
Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson on Friday declared ``Ric Flair
Day'' in that state. It marked yet another exceptional honor
for an exceptional athlete who has consistently cast a
positive light on a business that too often has been
blemished by controversy and scandal.
A native Minnesotan who moved to Charlotte 25 years ago
and made it his home, Flair spent Friday morning greeting
fans in the box office lobby of the Target Center in
Minneapolis and spent the rest of the afternoon touring the
area and holding court as only the ``Nature Boy'' can.
Flair, who turned 49 on Wednesday, received a similar
honor in this state in 1989 when then-Gov. Carroll Campbell
declared ``Ric Flair Day'' in South Carolina.
Ahmed Johnson (Tony Norris) officially was released by the
WWF last week for allegedly breaching his contract when
he refused to do a job in a recent match. Johnson balked
when asked to put over Kurgan The Interrogator during
WWF tapings in Dallas and later walked out.
The accident-prone Johnson received a big push upon his
arrival in the WWF more than two years ago and seemed
destined for star status, but poor booking on the WWF's part
(turning him heel so quickly and turning him back only
weeks later), a less-than-stellar work rate and Johnson's
propensity for getting hurt (and hurting his opponents as
well) ultimately spelled his demise in that organization.
Johnson's reign as Intercontinental champ early in his WWF
stint was marred when he suffered a ruptured kidney during
an attack by Faarooq (Ron Simmons), and has been
plagued by an assortment of injuries ever since, the most
recent incident a month ago when he was hospitalized for
A report on a recent Gene Okerlund hotline that WCW
manager James Vandenberg was on the way out appears to
The fact is that no managers in WCW have been used
properly in a long time, and Vandenberg is a terribly
If WCW termination is in Vandenberg's immediate future
(he stillhas a year left on his contract), certainly his pastures
will be greener in the World Wrestling Federation where the
roster is not as deep and development of young talent has
become a priority. Vandenberg's charge, Mortis (Chris
Canyon), also seems to be lost in the middle-tier talent
crunch at WCW despite showing exceptional ability for a big
man. Canyon reportedly is on a WWF wish list where
wrestlers who combine size with a good work rate are a
Dustin Runnels (Goldust) is expected to follow up his
scathing, but hilarious, parody of his father (Virgil Runnels
aka ``American Dream'' Dusty Rhodes) on Monday Night
Raw last week with a portrayal of Ric Flair on this week's
Raw. Jim Ross noted that the elder Rhodes, who hasn't
spoken to his son in several years, saw the segment and
thought it was funny, but that point remains debatable. A
comment several weeks ago by Larry Zbyszko on WCW
television that Dusty Rhodes looked like ``an elephant with a
hat on'' drew considerable heat, and Rhodes certainly wasn't
amused by that statement.
Former wrestler and promoter Buddy Lee died Feb. 13 in
Houston at age 65. Lee, who parlayed a wrestling career
into one of Nashville's most successful talent booking
agencies - Buddy Lee Attractions - started the company 35
years ago under the name Aud-Lee Attractions in
acknowledgement of then-partner Audrey Williams (widow
of the late country great Hank Williams).
Among the diverse talent that had been a part of Lee's roster
include Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, George Jones,
Garth Brooks, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Neil
Young, Patty Loveless, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter,
Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass, Johnny Rivers, John
Conlee, John Anderson, David Allan Coe, Vern Gosdin, Bill
Monroe and Rita Coolidge.
Lee came to Nashville from New York by way of Columbia,
S.C., where he helped train and promote women wrestlers
along with his then-wife Lillian Ellison, who as The Fabulous
Moolah was one of the greatest lady wrestlers in the history
of the business.
Lee, whose real name was Joseph Pino, had gone to
Houston for experimental cancer treatment and was midway
through his sessions when he died of respiratory failure.
Charleston will be the site of a major professional wrestling
legends reunion and show later this spring. Details of this
mat gala will be announced soon.
The WAWLI Papers #297...
(New York Magazine, October 26, 1998)
By Nancy Jo Sales
Hamilton, Ontario, is a city of some 350,000 people that,
with its strip malls, fast food, and overweight children, feels
just like America -- but off. NATION OF MASTURBATION,
reads a hand-scrawled sign. Hordes of fans standing in line
outside Hamilton's Copps Coliseum on a Sunday evening
were clad in the cryptically encoded T-shirts of the World
Wrestling Federation, on which they'd spent up to $40.
AUSTIN: 3:16, said one, bearing chapter and verse from
superstar wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin's "bible," the
citation reading, "I just whipped your ass."
Small boys held up posters that said: SUCK IT.
The WWF was in town for its Sunday Night Heat show,
which is broadcast live in the States and eventually reaches
110 countries, in eight languages. The buzz in the crowd
was about what might happen tonight in the ongoing agon
between beloved, neo-Nazi-esque Steve Austin (that was
the name of the Six Million Dollar Man) and his evil boss,
and WWF owner Vince McMahon -- in real life rumored to
be a $200 million man. ("That's what my motorcycle's
worth," says Vince.)
"Vince McMahon is gay!"
"He's an idiot!"
"He's not fair!" said Matt Ferraro, Greg Gilbin, and Geoff
White, all 13.
"He's the biggest con man I've ever seen!"
"He hates Stone Cold because he's not the kind of wrestler
Vince McMahon wants him to be -- all dressed up in a tie
and suit," Matt said.
"Vince is corporate," Greg explained.
Another fan, Mike Malecki, who was 17 and had peroxided
hair, stood nearby, listening, grinning. "Vince McMahon is a
genius," he said. "He's the P. T. Barnum of our era."
A WWF event begins with the explosion of $15,000 worth of
pyrotechnics. Fiery rockets scream in the air; giant booms
jar the sternum. A Wagnerian heavy-metal-hip-hop score
seems to guarantee the approach of the apocalypse, and
looming TV screens flash images of bald-headed, boot-
stomping Steve Austin marching through streets that have
been set ablaze. The WWF has a new attitude, which the
corporate offices call "Attitude."
Backstage at Copps, Vince McMahon was going over his
lines. "You really gotta be pissed here," one of his writers,
Vince Russo (also editor of WWF magazine, circulation
475,000), was telling him.
McMahon -- or "Mr. McMahon," as his villainous persona is
known -- nodded. With his perfect pompadour (he once told
the New York Times, "I work around my barber's schedule")
and pumped torso ("It's no big deal that at one point I took
steroids," he told me), he's an odd and somewhat
intimidating presence, part Jerry Lee Lewis, part hit man.
He is 53; wears perfectly tailored Armani suits; has small,
"We're all just little boys here," Vince said, attempting a
twinkle. "It's just a blast to go out and be a kid in a certain
Out in the arena, a wrestler named Val Venis was cupping
his crotch and gyrating all over the ring as the mammoth TV
screens showed dangly, foot-long hot dogs being placed in
buns. Venis, so his storyline goes, has seduced away Teri,
the "wife" of "preacher" wrestler Dustin Runnels -- formerly a
slithering drag-queen type called Goldust -- with his sexual
prowess, of which Val is very proud. "I came, I saw, and I
came again!" is his tag line.
"We're storytellers," Vince explained. "This is a soap opera,
performed by the greatest actors and athletes in the world.
I'd like to say that it's the highest form of entertainment."
Vince's deep, southern, Sergeant Friday voice went soft. "I
immediately fell in love with it from the first contact."
Vincent Kennedy McMahon is a third-generation promoter;
his father, Vincent James, was a legendary character out of
Damon Runyon whose Capital Wrestling events headlined
Madison Square Garden hundreds of times. Those were the
days -- the forties, fifties -- when pro wrestling was attended
by men in hats and still pretended to be real, and its good
guys ("babyfaces") and bad guys ("heels") power-slammed
each other on television in black and white. Today,
McMahon's WWF characters project more the psycho, gang
member, serial killer. One, Al Snow, totes a dismembered
mannequin head (female), which he mutters to amorously.
And then there is Vince himself.
The crowd in Hamilton was now looking up at images of
Vince intercut with footage of Mussolini. "VINCE SUCKS!"
In the past six months, McMahon has become perhaps the
biggest star in pro wrestling -- though not as a wrestler, but
as himself. His war with Stone Cold Steve Austin has made
the WWF's Monday Night Raw show (broadcast live on the
USA Network) the No. 1-rated program on cable. "The
WWF -- and wrestling in general -- is hotter than it's ever
been," says Dave Meltzer, a wrestling pundit and publisher
of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Celebrities are back in
the act. Dennis Rodman and Jay Leno have wrestled on TV
with the WCW. Mike Tyson refereed for the WWF in March,
Anthony Mason and Jason Williams sat ringside at Madison
Square Garden in August at the WWF's Summerslam. The
WWF's Fatal Fourway October 25 at the Garden promises
to draw a new crop of stars hoping to look in-the-know.
In Hamilton, Vince was now ready to make his entrance, his
face full of amusement and cunning as he listened to the
fans howling for his blood. "It doesn't bother me when they
boo," he said. "It means they care."
The fans explode with delighted rage when they see Vince
McMahon and his "bodyguards" step into the ring. "You
suck, Vince!" "Boo!" Vince, puffed up, stiff-necked, never
breaks out of character. If pro wrestling, as Andy Warhol
said, "is America," then McMahon is everything America
loves to hate and perhaps wants to be: the rich boss with
the "Corvette collection," the "many beautiful homes" he
VINCE IS SEXY! -- a woman in her thirties with blonde
pigtails tied up in yarn flapped a sign at a WWF-TV camera.
The WWF does everything in-house, from its makeup lady
to its satellite transmission; everything in the $500-million-a-
year company is controlled by Vince.
Vince took up a microphone and surveyed the Canadian
crowd, his fleshy lips trembling. "Everyone knows I am a
man of my word," he said.
"And," Vince boomed, "I will strip Stone Cold Steve Austin
of the WWF title!" The fans went crazy.
Just then, and there's always a "just then" in a WWF story
line -- openly called a "story line" since 1982, when Vince
decided to admit that the sport was fake (the WWF calls it
"sports entertainment"), thereby releasing his company from
costly licensing fees and drug testing by state athletic
commissions -- just then, Stone Cold Steve Austin,
disguised as a cameraman, flung his 250-pound body from
the steel cage suspended over the ring, and landed on
Vince, "punching" at his face as Vince squirmed beneath
him like a piece of bacon frying, his shiny, two-tone loafers
Redneck renegade Steve Austin has been assaulting Vince
at least once during almost every show, going back to the
spring, when their boss-employee warfare started pushing
the WWF ahead in the ratings against its competitor, Ted
Turner's World Champion Wrestling -- something that
delights McMahon no end. (Vince and Ted have a personal
rivalry that McMahon has also manipulated into a story line,
wrestling-style; for a while, the WWF had a corn-cob-pipe-
smokin' country-bumpkin character called "Billionaire Ted."
"Ted and I do not get along," Vince says.)
With TV viewership up more than 50 percent (10 million
viewers per week), the WWF is bigger now even than it was
in the eighties, when McMahon made wrestling huge the
first time around, by spiriting it away from UHF, cheesy sets,
and bad lighting to NBC, CBS, and the spectacle of rock
and roll. Vince, the unhippest of men, and yet one of the
great manufacturers of hip, got then-megastar Cyndi Lauper
to "manage" the WWF's Captain Lou Albano; he hired
Aretha Franklin to sing "America the Beautiful" at his first
Wrestlemania extravaganza in 1985. Vince -- in a move that
could make you think that if pro wrestling has become
entertainment culture's heart of darkness, then he truly is
Kurtz -- persuaded Muhammad Ali to jump into the ring at
the event and take swings at taunting wrestlers who dipped
and dodged away. Bruno Sammartino, wrestling's world
champion for most of the years between 1963 and 1977 --
the pre-Vince years -- says, "McMahon made wrestling
But Wrestlemania I was around the time people first started
calling Vince McMahon a genius -- of who-knows-what, but
certainly crass salesmanship. In 1987, Wrestlemania III (at
which the main event was Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant)
pulled 90,173 people into the Pontiac Silverdome, setting
the world record for the largest indoor audience attendance
(a statistic WWF employees repeat like a mantra). Hulk
Hogan was the WWF's biggest star then, and with his take-
your-vitamins, say-no-to-drugs message for kids, he was the
perfect action figure (WWF sales of which soared) for the
"Hogan couldn't wrestle his way out of a wet paper bag,"
says Bruno Sammartino.
And then came the fall. In 1993, the U.S. Attorney in
Brooklyn charged McMahon and the WWF's parent
company, Titan Sports, Inc., with conspiring to provide
WWF wrestlers with anabolic steroids between 1985
and 1991. Vince was personally charged with possession
and intent to distribute and faced up to five years in prison.
("And you know where they would have put me," he told me
ominously, "in a cell with someone just like me"; he allows
he is "truculent by nature.") Ex-wrestlers like Superstar Billy
Graham were making the talk-show rounds, saying the
WWF was filthy with steroid abuse and that "the Hulkster"
himself had shot up so many times he had a scar the size of
a tennis ball on one hip.
Without offering steroid abuse as a reason, the WWF put
Hogan (now a star again with the WCW) temporarily out to
pasture. By the time of Vince's trial in 1996, the WWF's first
wave was already well over -- live attendance had dwindled,
TV viewership was down. To make matters worse, a sex
scandal involving a ring boy and a high-level WWF
executive (not Vince, but a crony) had broken; and Vince
himself had been accused of sexual harassment by a female
employee. People were saying the WWF was going under,
and McMahon was finished.
How they underestimated him. "The government plays to
win," Vince says, "and so do I." McMahon pleaded innocent
to all six charges against him and came off with a single
conviction, "conspiracy to defraud the FDA." It still irks him.
"I defy anyone to tell you what that means," he says
impatiently. "What am I, a doctor?" Some believe the case
against him could have been won, but "the Feds blew it, and
McMahon had good lawyers," says Phil Mushnick,
sportswriter for the New York Post, whose reporting on
George Zahorian, a doctor with WWF connections who was
convicted of steroid distribution, brought on the government
investigation of Vince and his corporation.
"There's still steroid use throughout wrestling," says Dave
Meltzer. A WWF wrestler, Brian Pillman, died of a heart
attack just last fall; he had been a steroid abuser. Vince
invited Pillman's widow, Melanie, on the air the night after
his death. He held a microphone to her lips as she mourned
for the cameras.
And now McMahon is back. In September, Titan Sports
acquired the Debbie Reynolds hotel-casino in Las Vegas.
Vince gets a certain gleam in his eye when he talks about
the plans for the new venue, "Stone Cold betting chips,
Undertaker tattoo parlor -- the Sable lingerie shop!" (The
Undertaker is the WWF's gothic, Frankensteinian wrestler;
Sable -- or "Sable Bomb" -- its scrappy silicone blonde.) The
WWF is also hunting for a spot in Manhattan to erect its
first, Planet Hollywood-style "Wrestlemania Caf=E9." "There is
just so much you can do with this company," says Vince,
"and I feel like we're just beginning."
It does seem strange that McMahon's rebirth as a corporate
player is coincidental with a WWF story line -- its most
popular ever -- capitalizing on an image of him as a vicious
corporate monster. Vince insists that the real theme of his
life has actually been the one that's being played out in the
husky persona of Stone Cold Steve Austin -- a "wild man"
who fights dirty and would rather bash in your head with a
metal folding chair than take a meeting. "After you really get
to know me," Vince says, "you'll see that Stone Cold is really
playing the part of Vince McMahon."
"I'm a man running wild, heading for the top. . . . Along the
way you're going to see a lot of men drop," go the lyrics to a
song Vince once wrote for a record label he was trying out.
Near the end of the show in Hamilton, Stone Cold Steve
Austin's body, in black boots and bathing suit, lay sprawled
face-down on the mat -- the Undertaker and his "brother,"
the mute Kane had whipped him jointly after Vince had fixed
the match with some last-minute, low-down rules.
"You who just got your jollies from what Steve Austin just
did to me," McMahon growled triumphantly at the crowd in
Hamilton, "he who laughs last laughs longest!"
And then, to the horror of the fans, Vince leaned down and
literally stripped Stone Cold of the title belt the rebel wrestler
had fashioned for himself. "Look at it -- it has a skull on it!"
Vince shouted with disgust, shaking it at the crowd.
"FUCK YOU, VINCE!" "Unfair!"
"It's mine! It's mine!" Vince screamed, waving the belt and
dashing from the arena, with the suddenly revived Steve
Austin in hot and sweaty pursuit.
Outside -- filmed on cue for the WWF cameras -- Vince
jumped into an awaiting white stretch limo and sped away.
The USA Network cut to Pacific Blue, a cute-cops-on-bikes
show set in California, with a lot of skin.
Minutes later, as the disappointed Canadians were leaving
the Copps arena, upsetting trash cans, McMahon
reappeared through a side entrance, still holding the title
belt. "We had to take the long way around -- they caught us,
they were beating on the car!" He laughed, and for a
moment he did indeed look like the 12-year-old boy he
claims to be, deep down. His "bodyguards" -- most of them
old friends who've seen Vince through a lot of ups and
downs -- rocked back on their heels, smiling at him.
"Oh, you can bet they'll be watching tomorrow night to find
out who's the new champ," Vince said, tossing Stone Cold's
belt to one of his minions.
"Here," he said with a little sneer, "take this."
The corporate headquarters of Titan Sports, in Stamford,
Connecticut, is a $10 million mirrored monolith which the
WWF announcers refer to as Titan Tower ("The folks up at
Titan Tower won't like what Stone Cold's up to now at all!,"
etc.). The building flies a gigantic black WWF flag, which,
with its "edgy" new ATTITUDE logo, looks a lot like the Jolly
Here, 300 employees do "Mr. McMahon's" bidding, creating
and overseeing the WWF live events, merchandising
(clothing, action figures, video games), pay-per-view, home
video, new media. "The model is Disney," says president of
new media Shane McMahon, Vince's 28-year-old son and
the future, fourth-generation successor to the empire. Inside
the office complex, the framed pictures everywhere of
"product" show freakish men in fluorescent tights.
Vince was casual in slacks and eating a Power Bar in his
office when I came to see him. I was followed by Jay
Andronaco, head of the WWF's media relations, a man who
would later trail me on the road with the WWF to make sure
I didn't stray out of his sight even on trips to the ladies room.
Here in Vince's office, Andronaco pointedly set a small tape
recorder in the middle of Vince's wide glass conference
table; they would be taping me, too. "As much as you will
learn about our business," Vince said mildly, "I'll learn a lot,
too; I always do. I'll learn a lot about you."
Later, the Post's Phil Mushnick told me he believed Vince
had had detectives shadow him after Mushnick began
writing stories about steroid use in the WWF, and Vince had
brought a civil suit against him. "He hired Fairfax Partners,
old FBI agents," Mushnick said. "I walked right up to one
and asked, 'What does Vince think he's digging for?' " Vince
eventually dropped his suit. And in 1995, The Village Voice
published a piece about a "fixer," Marty Bergman (husband
of Vince's trial lawyer, Laura Brevetti), who had attempted to
taint one of the main witnesses against McMahon -- his
former secretary Emily Feinberg -- by posing as a producer
from A Current Affair and offering her money (Feinberg
(To be concluded in The WAWLI Papers No. 298)
The WAWLI Papers #298...
BEYOND FAKE (Continued from WAWLI No. 297)
Vince munched his Power Bar. "This character that is on
television," he began, "this Mr. McMahon character -- oh, my
God. Some of the things I have said and have done. He's
the most reprehensible individual on the planet. He's a
horrible human being . . . uncaring, a powermonger,
manipulative, very manipulative, always trying to get what I
want and being very clever about it. Art imitating life and
vice versa." Vince's juggling of pronouns -- he and I --
Vince shook his head, smiling. "It's fun," he added,
"because some of it's true, you know what I mean?"
Dave Meltzer likes to call the trend in pro wrestling toward
meta-story lines "dual reality": "You acknowledge that the
matches are arranged," he says, "but the money angle is
that the internal machinations and backstage things you
pretend the viewer is let in on are 'real.' They want you to
believe all that is real."
The key angle with Vince seems to be that a lot of his faked
real is real. "It's ironic that I now play an authority figure,"
Vince said in Connecticut, "although it's easy for me to. I
know all the right buttons to push because I've been there,
on the flip side of it."
Then he started talking about his dad.
Vincent K. didn't meet Vincent J. (Vince stresses he is "not
a junior") until he was 12 years old, when the elder
McMahon was already a figure of national prominence. "It
was one of those things. My mom was married five times,"
Vince said. "It just didn't happen for us." He grew up with
his mother in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and describes his
childhood as rough, but adds, "There are just no excuses for
anything. I read about some guy who has excuses for his
behavior," Vince said, "because he comes from a broken
home or he was beaten or was sexually abused or got
into the wrong crowd or whatever the case may be -- all of
which have occurred in my lifetime. But those are no
He said, "It was very late," when he and his father met.
Vincent J.'s wife, Juanita, brokered a meeting between the
long-lost children, Vince and his older brother, Rod (who's
now in the steel business in Texas); Vincent J. was not the
engineer of the reunion. "I saw my dad and I just
immediately fell in love with him," said Vince, depicting
wrestling boss Vincent J. as "big and handsome," with a
tendency to jingle a handful of change while lost in thought.
"He would take me to shows at the old Uline arena in
Washington, and I remember the crowd response and these
larger-than-life individuals. The passion was just so strong, I
just knew that I wanted to do that as soon as I saw it.
"Of course, I wanted to be a wrestler," Vince said. "My dad
always knew that I wanted to be in the business from the
first exposure. The summer of '59, I was 14 years old, and
my favorite wrestler was naturally a villainous type, Doctor
Jerry Graham. He had peroxided hair and wore a red river-
boat-gambler-type shirt. He had a 1959 blood-red Cadillac
"Washington, D.C., that summer of '59, I'd sneak out of my
dad's office and go riding around town with the good doctor -
- and, oh, my God -- he would light cigars with hundred-
dollar bills, run red lights, curse anybody he wanted to
curse. And I just thought he was the coolest guy. He was a
wild man, he would do anything he wanted to do. So my
dad was very upset when he found out I was sneaking
around town with Jerry Graham, because he didn't think he
was a very good influence on me.
"That same summer, at a place right outside of Atlantic City
while my dad was away, I talked my stepmom into
peroxiding my hair, and of course when my dad got back he
blew his stack. That same summer, Dr. Jerry Graham gave
me my first set of weights, called Healthways. I had the red
shirt, red pants, and also I bought the red shoes. "I think my
dad was probably a little afraid."
And for years, Vincent J. wouldn't hear of his son joining the
family business, he was "balking all this line." Every Sunday
over dinners with his father in Gatorsburg, Maryland (where
Vince had moved with his young wife, Linda, to "be near my
dad"), he continued to make his pitch: Let me in.
Meanwhile, Vince was supporting his new family (Linda and
Shane; a daughter, Stephanie, came later) at jobs he
despised -- as a salesman for the Maryland Cup
Corporation, the Victor Concomitor adding-machine
company, and, as if to tell everyone he really did feel like he
was in prison, even breaking rocks at a quarry. "It was an
honest day's pay," he says -- as well as what Vince would
later use to such effect in the arenas, great imagery.
Not to be outdone in that area, perhaps, in 1972 his father
finally sent 27-year-old Vince up to Bangor, Maine, the
outermost point of his "territory." (The old wrestling bosses
operated within these strictly prescribed areas; Vincent J.'s
territory was the biggest and most lucrative, the whole
Northeast.) Bangor was wrestling exile. Vince said, "He told
me, 'If you don't make it, don't ever ask me again.' "
But Vince did make it. Not only that, but after he came
onboard as a television announcer for Capital Wrestling (in
the shows of the seventies, he's swimming in his suit and
seems to fear the athletes he's interviewing will attack him),
he then proved to be an innovator in TV production
techniques (nobody had ever seen wrestling in slo-mo
before), which helped his dad's business grow. "And it was
really good," said Vince. "It was making more money than it
had ever made, and so my dad was thinking it just can't get
any better than this -- and he was looking to get out." In
1980, "my dad was retiring, and it scared me to death."
At first, Vincent J. refused, however, to sell his business to
his son -- who, despite his success as a company man, was
himself going through bankruptcy. "I'd, uh, gotten in with
some bad accounting people, I'd gotten into the cement-
block-building business, the construction business, the
quarter-horse business . . ." And yet Vince somehow
managed to raise the money he needed for the purchase (in
ways that are not entirely clear from his own account --
something about a "guru" and a "real sharp guy").
But his dad nevertheless gave him a rather punishing deal:
"If I didn't pay them the next quarterly payment, then they
got to keep the money and get the business back. I really
don't believe any of us thought I was gonna make that last
payment," says Vince, "or even second payment, but I did it
by using mirrors." And then, in a move that changed pro
wrestling forever, Vince commenced invading the territories,
buying out local leagues, and making his (formerly named)
Worldwide Wrestling Federation national, a monopoly, and
the first pro-wrestling conglomerate.
"My dad's phone started ringing, but he didn't really have
any control then -- now he was working for me. I got so tired
of hearing threats on my life. I said to one guy, 'If you wanna
blow me away, you're way far behind; somebody might beat
you to it.' "
"I'm Stone Cold Steve Austin, like Vince McMahon says, a
corporate nightmare. I don't dress up a whole lot.
Sometimes my language is a little offensive. I drink a few
beers on TV. I'm not a yes man. I do what I want, when and
how I want. I'm not, uh, very respectful to authority figures."
In Detroit's Joe Louis Stadium, hours before the WWF's
Monday Night Raw, Stone Cold Steve Austin (Steve
Williams is his real name) was sitting straddled on a
bleacher after just having eaten a ham dinner in a
backstage cafeteria with the other wrestlers. He was
wearing his signature leather vest (it says HELL YEAH!) and
a baseball cap that read AUSTIN. His shaved head was
smooth as shoe leather. His icy-blue eyes glittered under
long, blond lashes.
He was giving his take on the appeal of his character: "I
think every now and then everybody would like to be able to
punch their boss in the mouth, go out there and drive a truck
into a building, sitting on top of it drinking beer -- everybody
likes to see that."
But before all that got worked into his story line (wrestlers
typically share creative control of their characters with Vince
and his writers), Austin was no big sensation. He joined the
WWF three years ago as The Ringmaster, billed as a
technical whiz, and he always got booed. Until one day,
Austin started "saying a lot of Clint Eastwood stuff into the
microphone, and the fans just started cheering me instead
of booing me. Especially when I flipped people off on TV.
And Vince didn't really like that.
"The real Vince is not the Vince in the ring," said Austin.
"There is a parallel there; not as much as you see on TV.
But I've certainly had my, uh, warnings about flipping people
off and things like 'at.
"But I gotta be me out there. And there's not been a whole
lot Vince can do about it."
Among the many, many Stone Cold Steve Austin products
now being marketed by the WWF is a black foam hand with
a finger being "flipped" ($10).
Austin says he got the idea for the name Stone Cold after
reading a book about serial killers. "And it's kinda worked
'Three times in one week, Steve Austin brutally attacked
me. . . ." Vince was bellowing, chastising the fuming
Undertaker and Kane in front of the 20,000 fans packed into
Joe Lewis Stadium in Detroit; the mammoth wrestlers had
been roped into an arrangement, supposedly, to protect
Vince from Stone Cold Steve Austin. But Austin had
managed that night to drive a zamboni into the arena, to the
edge of the ring, leap from it, and, again, give Vince another
"But you didn't live up to your end of the deal. . . ." Vince
hissed, face contorted. "So I'm not going to live up to mine!"
Vince had promised to award one of the victors against
Austin the title belt. But instead, Vince gave the brothers the
double finger; the Austinian reference ignited the fans --
"Noooo!" Just then, Kane and the Undertaker started
pummeling Vince, tossing him out of the ring and dumping
a set of heavy metal steps on him.
Now, for one psychotic moment, Vince had truly "become"
Stone Cold Steve Austin -- fighting and losing to the same
adversaries Austin had fought and lost to the night before in
"Paramedics" rushed in.
Minutes later, backstage, as the home viewers were shown
an ad for Bride of Chucky, Vince readied himself on a
stretcher, cutting up with the camera crew, his greasy
pompadour somehow unmussed. The cameras started
rolling; Vince was hefted into an ambulance, twisting in
"Don't drop him!" someone yelled.
The fans in the arena watched the action on their giant TV
screens. Vince was really hurt?! "Yeah!"
"That's one way to get the boss outta here," joked one
wrestler standing nearby, watching Vince being driven away
in the ambulance.
Before there was Stone Cold-mania, or a "Mr. McMahon," for
that matter, there was Bret Hart, a long-haired, sweet-faced
Canadian wrestler who stood for decency and integrity and,
up until late 1997, was Vince's main draw. Vince, not
"himself then" wore standard-issue tuxes, posing as a slicker
version of his longtime announcer role. He didn't yet try to let
the fans in on the fact that he was the owner of the WWF.
He wasn't yet a star.
"I thought of Vince McMahon as a father," Hart says in an
upcoming A&E documentary, Hitman Hart, scheduled to air
in December. Hart felt such a sense of loyalty to McMahon
and the company that had made him (he'd been with the
WWF fourteen years), in fact, in early 1997, he turned down
a $9 million offer from the WCW, like a true corporate
soldier. But Vince, who was losing his ratings war with Ted
Turner, started taking the WWF in a direction with which
Hart was uncomfortable -- upping the heat on story lines
with racist and homophobic overtones and characters who
seemed like escapees from lunatic asylums. (In this, Vince
was actually going in a direction the WCW had already
played with, but doing it harder.)
Hart balked. He was a traditionalist, born into a wrestling
family; his own father, Stuart, had owned a Canadian
wrestling territory that had, in fact, been bought out by
McMahon during his westward expansion of the eighties.
"Something strange was happening," Hart says. "The guys
the American fans are supposed to hate were becoming the
With Vince's okay, Hart actually started telling the fans -- at
events, from the ring -- that he didn't "respect" their shifting
moral center; he wanted them to "examine themselves" for
cheering bad guys like the up-and-coming Stone Cold Steve
Austin; he criticized them for not caring enough about
America's poverty, racism -- health care! A whole new level
of reality was entering pro wrestling -- reality reality -- which,
within the context of wrestling, felt doubly weird.
The fans waved signs at Hart: IF YOU DON'T LOVE
AMERICA THEN LEAVE IT.
Vince liked the energy; he encouraged Hart to call the
U.S.A. "a giant toilet bowl." Overnight, Bret Hart became a
"heel." But the Canadian fans still loved their Hitman; for a
country that has always felt trapped in the awkward position
of having to base its identity on not caring about national
identity, in contrast to its blustering next-door neighbor, Hart
was probably the closest thing there'd ever been to a
nationalist hero in Canada's pop culture.
In late 1997, Vince let Bret Hart know that now would be a
good time for him to leave the WWF; shattered, Hart
brokered another, substantial offer from the WCW. And then
Vince asked Hart to go out by losing his title belt in, of all
places, Montreal. "Vince asked me to lose in Canada. That
would have been like committing suicide," Hart says --
meaning emotionally; plus, it could also affect his contract
negotiations with the WCW, because it would make him
look like such a jerk with the fans. But Vince said okay, we'll
do it your way -- you can go out on a disqualification.
Hart's opponent on November 9, 1997, at Montreal's Molson
Center stadium was the cocky, pretty-boy wrestler Shawn
Michaels, whom Vince had been pushing as his next big
star. Michaels had Hart in Hart's own signature move -- a
"sharpshooter" -- but he was not pinned when, Hart says, he
heard someone say to the ref, "Ring the bell."
"It looked so bad on TV, it was not a professional-wrestling
finish," says Meltzer. "It looked like mob thievery. This was
the biggest pro-wrestling story ever."
The people smelled a fix, and they hated Vince for it. "He
was getting booed," says Meltzer. "And he decided to go
with the flow."
'When you're on that fast track," Vince told me that day up
at Titan Tower, "you just didn't think about the other people
who were being hurt.
"I'm not like a lot of men. You'll find me to be more sensitive
and things of that nature than most guys."
It's hard to know what's real anymore about Vince
McMahon. "There's nothing real about him," says Meltzer.
But that's made Vince's wrestling show realer than it's ever
been. And that, too, is part of McMahon's art. "Whether
anybody likes it or not, I'm tellin' you -- HE'S IN CONTROL
OF THIS ENTIRE SITUATION!!!" said his own WWF
magazine recently. "It's a human chess game, and . . .
before you know it . . . CHECKMATE!"
On the last MONDAY NIGHT RAW show, live from the
Nassau Coliseum, Vince came down the ramp to the ring in
a wheelchair (he was temporarily "crippled" by the
Undertaker and Kane); storm trooper-like bodyguards and
two snapping German shepherds protected him as he faced
off with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who could do little besides
stand there. No beating up on Vince today.
"Kill him! Kill him!" urged the fans.
"You violated me, Austin, you violated me!" moaned Vince
(referring to a previous "assault" by Austin in Vince's
hospital room, where Austin had bashed an enema tube at
Vince's behind). "What you did to my rectal area! But let me
tell you something, as much humiliation as I have suffered,
you're gonna suffer more. . . . I will fire your ass!"
"You stupid bastard," shouted Stone Cold, "you ain't got the
balls to fire Stone Cold Steve Austin!"
"I don't have the balls?" said Vince McMahon. "I've got balls
the size of grapefruits! And . . . you're gonna be picking the
seeds out of your teeth!"
The crowd went wild; in an era when nothing shocks, Vince
was shocking them. "Vince! . . . Vince! . . . Vince!" Now the
fans were actually cheering for McMahon.
From the October 26, 1998 issue of New York Magazine.
The WAWLI Papers #299...
WRESTLING CLASSICS ON THE WEB
Date: 98-10-25 07:30:48 EST
From: email@example.com (Mark Nulty)
My new site, www.wrestlingclassics.com, went live
yesterday. I think you'll enjoy it, especially the exhibits and
stories in the museum section. Thanks.
TERRY FUNK WINS ECW WORLD TITLE
(Amarillo Globe-News, April 19, 1997)
PHILADELPHIA - Terry Funk, 53, claimed the Extreme
Championship Wrestling title in front of an estimated crowd
of 2,000 and a pay-per-view TV audience Sunday night.
"I got real lucky,'' Funk said of his victory.
To win the ECW title Funk had to fight twice. He defeated
Steve Richards and the Sandman in what is called a three-
man-dance in the semifinals. In a three-man-dance, three
wrestlers are in the ring fighting at the same time.
Funk went on to defeat Raven in the main event.
Funk said the matches made $1.2 million from the pay-per-
view crowd and another $100,000 from the gate.
He described the event as an alternative, very physical form
Funk helped start the ECW three years ago and said the
organization is made up of "a lot of guys with a lot of heart.''
Funk has also announced his retirement from pro wrestling
at the end of the year.
"I'm to old to be doing what I'm doing,'' he said.
Subj: Attack on EricPage
Date: 98-10-21 15:07:36 EDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rabbi Mayer Schiller)
Dear Mr. Kenyon,
I was wondering if you could help me with some details
concerning a long ago wrestling event.
Some time in the early sixties when Channel 5 in New York
City had wrestling on three times a week (Sunnyside,
Capitol Arena and Bridgeport) the tv announcer from
Sunnyside, Eric Page, was attacked during, what was then
called, the "intermission interviews". His attackers were
Buddy Rogers, Roger's tag team partner (Bob Orton? Great
Scott?) and their manager Bobby Davis. The next week
Page announced that the fans would vote, via post card, for
the team which would avenge him.
The winners of the vote were Cowboy Bob Ellis and Johnny
Valentine. The match eventually took place, I believe, at
Commack Arena. Do you know a date for this or where I
might go for more details? Example, where is Page today?
Thanking you in advance I am,
Sincerely, Mayer Schiller
(ED. NOTE -- Our "resident expert" on Sunnyside Garden
matters, Mr. Fred Hornby -- even as we speak -- is busy
pouring through his clipping archives from that period and
will soon produce full documentation of the tag team grudge
battles you mention. We'll have it all, in good time, right
here in WAWLI. Thanks for sparking our interest.)
PROSTITUTION BECOMES ISSUE IN MINNESOTA
(The Associated Press, October 22, 1998)
By Amy Kuebelbeck
FOREST LAKE, Minnesota -- Jesse Ventura had just
finished his stump speech -- long on entertaining anecdotes
and short on policy specifics -- when an audience member
asked for his opinion on prostitution.
Ventura, the former professional wrestler and ex-Brooklyn
Park mayor, said prostitution is merely a crime prostitutes
commit against themselves.
Elaborating to reporters afterward, he said Minnesota should
consider legalizing it, but that he does not support
legalization. He pointed to Amsterdam's infamous red-light
district as a model.
"It's a lot easier to control something when it's legal than
when it's illegal,'' he said. "I think it's something that we
certainly should look at in the interest of getting it out of the
(residential) neighborhoods ... We need to look at solving
these social problems in a different way.''
Ventura surprised the political establishment when a recent
poll taken for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis and KMSP-TV
showed 21 percent of likely voters intended to vote for him.
That still puts him in third place, but he appears to be at
least partly responsible for dropping Democrat Hubert
Humphrey III into a virtual dead heat with Republican
Both candidates denounced Ventura's latest idea.
"It's terrible public policy. It puts our public safety and
Minnesota values at risk and it moves Minnesota in the
wrong direction,'' Humphrey spokeswoman Tammy Lee
Lee noted that Amsterdam has significant gang and drug
problems near its legalized pornography and prostitution
Coleman said Minnesotans should be outraged and
frightened by the idea.
"To think you're going to solve these problems by opening
up the floodgates is absolutely absurd,'' Coleman said.
But Ventura complained that his comments were distorted.
He said he only supported studying legalization.
"When asked if I supported legalized prostitution and drugs,
the first two words I said were: `Absolutely not,''' Ventura
said. "I don't have the answers to these problems, but I
intend to find them.''
Evelina Giobbe, an ex-prostitute who runs a Minneapolis
agency aimed at helping women leave prostitution, was
aghast at the idea.
"I'd be appalled to go downtown Minneapolis and have
naked women sitting in a window like puppies for sale,'' she
said, referring to a typical scene in Amsterdam's red-light
Giobbe said legalizing prostitution would do nothing to
alleviate the exploitation of women and children and the
violence and drug abuse that accompany prostitution. She
said it would also send the message that ``women and
children are for sale.''
THE BODY SLAMS INTO MINNESOTA POLITICS
(Washington Post, Thursday, October 22, 1998)
By Jon Peter
MINNEAPOLIS =97 The debate turns to the issue of crime,
and the Reform Party's supersized gubernatorial candidate,
Jesse "The Body" Ventura, sits patiently on the sofa in his
golf shirt and worn sneakers waiting for the Republican and
Democratic nominees to finish. Then he jumps in.
Law enforcement, he all but growls in his gravelly baritone,
is a local issue -- best handled by municipal officials, not
state government. When he was a suburban mayor here a
few years back, the crime rate fell "because we had a mayor
with a little bit of military background who knew how to go
out and kick some butt," said Ventura, a former professional
wrestler, Navy SEAL, actor and radio talk show host. "You
need to have that little bit of attitude if you're going to deal
with crime. If I get called in [to help as governor] then it's my
way or the highway and get out of the way."
The Body has added a heavy dose of testosterone to
Minnesota's governor's race, transforming an otherwise dull
gubernatorial campaign into one of the most colorful -- and
suspenseful -- in the nation this year. With little money and
not a single television ad, Ventura has parlayed his celebrity
and populist anti-government message into the most spirited
third-party candidacy since Ross Perot's in 1992.
A Minneapolis Star Tribune poll released Tuesday shows
that Ventura's support among likely voters has doubled
since the September primary, to 21 percent. He trails the
Democratic and GOP nominees -- state Attorney General
Hubert H. Humphrey III, until recently the clear front-runner,
and St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman -- who are locked in a
dead heat with 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively,
among likely voters.
But of the three candidates, Ventura has, by far, the greatest
measurable momentum behind him. In a few weeks' time,
he has surged beyond spoiler status to that of serious
candidate, appealing to a much broader range of voters than
anyone here ever imagined.
"I think people are fed up with politics and Jesse is the only
authentic working-class candidate in the race," said Steven
Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in
Northfield, Minn. "At the same time, politics has become
more and more about entertainment . . . Jesse doesn't offer
a lot of specifics but his is essentially a campaign
built around a personality and in this volatile political
atmosphere, it's working."
The 47-year-old Ventura stands apart from his rivals in every
way. At 6-foot-4, he towers over Humphrey and Coleman. A
Vietnam War veteran who never attended college, he met
his wife at a biker bar, sends his two children to public
schools and campaigns in torn jeans, sneakers, and a
leather jacket. In stark contrast to the button-down,
credentialed image of his opponents, both career politicians,
Ventura's image is of the plain-spoken Everyman, even
though he drives a Porsche and lives in a palatial home on
the banks of the Mississippi River.
His 11-year professional wrestling career, which ended in
1986, and more recent stints as an actor and talk show host
have allowed Ventura to be financially comfortable.
In the theater that is politics, the big man with the
cleanshaven head and the deep voice has a clear advantage
over Humphrey and Coleman, both of whom are regarded
as more cautious than charismatic. Ventura is the only one
of the three who has worked as a bodyguard for the Rolling
Stones; used the score from the movie "Shaft" ("When the
other guys were cashing government checks, he was in the
Navy getting dirty and wet. . . .") as his campaign's theme
song; or appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the
action film "Predator," in which he uttered one of the movie's
most memorable lines: "I ain't got time to bleed."
Unable to afford television ads so far, Ventura has done well
in televised debates and public appearances, preaching his
brand of libertarian, get-government-off-your-back politics.
His speech at a parade in rural Minnesota this summer
attracted what organizers of the annual event described as
one of its largest audiences.
"I think people are hearing something new, something
different," Ventura said in an interview this week. "They
know that I'm going to be straight with them. I won't make
any promises I can't keep. I'm not a career politician. How
many jobs have I had since I graduated from high school,
while both my opponents, all they've done is collect
"I am going to vote for him for sure," said 54-year-old
Bernard DeSmet, a welder who has voted Republican but
favors Ventura's candor, and his mix of fiscally conservative
and socially progressive views. "With Jesse, what you see is
what you get. I believe he will do what he says he will."
What he says he will do is cut taxes, pare state government
and reduce classroom sizes from a ratio of 19 students for
every teacher to 17 to 1. He is less clear on how he will get
there, which both Coleman and Humphrey point to as a sign
of his inexperience as a manager.
"This is the top job in Minnesota," said Coleman's
spokeswoman, Cyndy Brucato. "It's a tough job and it
requires something other than the ultimate bully pulpit, if you
will pardon my pun."
During a debate earlier this month, Ventura answered a
question about the budget more like an ex-wrestler than a
politician. "I want to go back after government," he said,
raising his hands as if applying a choke hold. "I want to get
in there and get my hands in there and find out where the
But if Ventura has been vague on issues ranging from the
budget to his military service record, he also has
demonstrated a disarming wit, a dexterity with the language
and an earnestness that defies ideological typecasting and
makes him appear a bit less prepackaged than his
opponents. Today, at a luncheon speech to business
owners, Ventura repeated his call that Minnesota
considering legalizing prostitution. "We need to look at
solving these social problems in a different way," he said.
When asked whether he supports a gay rights measure
during a debate earlier this month, the tough-talking ex-
wrestler provided this answer: "I have two friends that have
been together 41 years. If one of them becomes sick the
other one is not even allowed to be at the bedside. I don't
believe government should be so hostile, so mean-spirited. .
. . Love is bigger than government."
Initially, the conventional wisdom here among pollsters and
party officials was that Ventura's fiscal conservatism would
draw voters who would otherwise vote for the GOP's
Coleman. Indeed, Humphrey has refused all debates with
Coleman if Ventura was not also present. But the Star
Tribune poll suggests that Ventura's surge with the voters
has come mostly at Humphrey's expense. Since the
primary, Humphrey's support among likely voters has
dropped by 14 percentage points, while Coleman's has
increased by 5 percentage points.
That would suggest that Ventura is not only challenging
Coleman for conservatives, but also contending with
Humphrey for votes from organized labor and farmers. "Our
polls have always shown that we draw equally from both
camps," Ventura said.
Supporters for Ventura, however, aren't as solidly behind
their candidate as supporters for Humphrey and Coleman,
an indication that the major party candidates may be able to
woo some of Ventura's fans. And the undecided voters here
tend to be women and moderates, which might suggest an
advantage for Humphrey, Schier said.
Ventura's competitiveness, Schier said, is due in part to the
state's campaign finance laws, which limit each
gubernatorial candidate to $2.1 million in spending. State
law also guarantees state matching funds for all candidates
who win at least 5 percent of the vote in the primary. That
has provided an even playing field for Ventura, whose
campaign this week received an infusion of more than
$300,000 in bank loans, using the state funds as collateral.
That should buy the Ventura campaign its first television ad.
"I think we're going to win," Ventura said in an interview this
week. "The public wants someone to look up to." He
pauses, then grins. "I'm 6-foot-4. They're not."
(Newsweek, October 24, 1998)
By David Brauer
The tough-talking former pro wrestler Jesse "The Body"
Ventura rose in the Minnesota's governor's race in part by
blasting his opponents as "professional politicians." But
Thursday, after telling a group of business leaders that that
legalizing prostitution is "something we certainly should look
at," Ventura was forced into the most mealy-mouthed sort of
spin-control. When counselors working to get women out of
prostitution protested, and rivals pounced, Ventura's
campaign first claimed he had been misquoted. However,
TV tapes confirmed that the Reform Party nominee had
indeed floated the trial balloon, including this fractured
musing about the one state with legalized prostitution:
"Nevada don't seem to have a problem with it, do they?"
Eventually, Ventura reverted to the tough-guy persona,
saying he alone had the courage to consider new
approaches, especially since streetwalker victimization
flourishes under the current system. However, many local
pundits predict his support, especially among women, is
headed for a dive off the top turnbuckle.
SURVIVOR SERIES COULD BE STRONG
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Sunday, October 25, 1998)
By Rennie Detore
Since its inception in 1987, the "Survivor Series" has been
based on the concept of having teams of four or five
wrestlers compete against other teams, with the match
ending when one team has been completely eliminated.
But in the past couple of years, the World Wrestling
Federation has turned its Survivor Series into what is now a
pointless, pay-per-view event. The event and, more
specifically, the matches are used as nothing more than a
vehicle for getting wrestlers "over" with the fans.
The event last year was a perfect example.
The survivors included: The New Age Outlaws, Kurrgan,
Ken Shamrock and the British Bulldog. With the exception
of the Bulldog, the others won their respective matches
because they were being "pushed" by the bookers as future
stars for the company.
In today's age of "WWF attitude," the "team" concept has
but faded away. Fans are tired of seeing wrestlers team
together for no apparent reason. The WWF will try a
different approach this year.
The federation will hold a 16-man, single-elimination
tournament Nov. 15 for the vacant WWF championship
belt. The most recent tournament of this magnitude was at
Wrestlemania IV in 1988.
Despite being fired by WWF honcho Vince McMahon,
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin is expected to compete, along
with 15 other wrestlers. Austin is the favorite to win, though
The Rock, Kane and The Undertaker look like possible
winners, too. Also expected to compete are Shamrock, The
Big Bossman, Mankind and Hunter Hearst Helmsley, if his
knee injury is healed by then. There's a slim chance former
WWF champ Shawn Michaels will make his return.
Like World Championship Wrestling did with its "War
Games" event, the WWF has all of its star power in one
match. Unlike "War Games," though, this tournament is for
the title, not just for a shot at it.
This won't be the first time the WWF has gone away from
team competition. Back in 1992, the "Survivor Series"
featured a regular card, with no team matches. The event,
however, proved a big disappointment. So the WWF
returned to team competition in 1993.
Since then, the team matches have become worse each
year, reaching an all-time low in 1994, when Jerry Lawler
and his team of midget kings wrestled Doink the Clown and
his team of ... you guessed it, midget clowns. Even the die-
hard WWF fans had to shake their heads at this one.
The past aside, the upcoming event should prove successful
for the WWF. Sure, there still might be one or two team
matches, but the major selling point of the pay-per-view will
be the tournament for the title, not a battle between two
teams with no storyline behind it.
The WCW pay-per-view tonight, "Halloween Havoc," looks
good on paper, but it's up to the WCW booking staff as well
as the wrestlers to deliver. It seems during the past six
months or so that WCW wrestlers have become lazy and
uninspired, relying on their name value, rather than the
quality of their wrestling.
A perfect example of this is the marquee matchup between
"Hollywood" Hogan and The Warrior. Both wrestlers have
been living off their name value alone for years. Now, they
are expected to deliver in a main event. Don't count on it.
The Warrior, who will wrestle despite his nagging biceps
injury, and Hogan are perhaps the two worst wrestlers in
terms of work rate. Their match eight years ago was decent,
but remember at the time, both wrestlers were in their mid-
Playing second fiddle to Hogan-Warrior is Goldberg vs.
Diamond Dallas Page for the world title.
Unlike the Hogan-Warrior charade, however, TV viewers
can expect a good match between these two. Page will have
to carry Goldberg a bit, but not much considering
Will Page win the title? At 43, he's more than ready to win
it. But WCW has no immediate plans to take the title from
In other news, WWF Raw continued its dominance against
WCW Nitro, defeating it for the fifth consecutive week 5.0 to
4.4 in the TV ratings. The 5.0 rating can be credited to the
Austin-McMahon hostage angle, which lasted throughout
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